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  • 26 February 2016

    The ATO Tax Practitioner Advisory Group meeting was held on Friday 26 February 2016.

    A summary of topics discussed is provided below to assist professional associations to communicate key messages to members.

    Digital services

    The following enhancements to the client correspondence list are planned to be delivered in April 2016:

    • search results can be sorted by date or client name, with the ability to change the sort option
    • the search parameters can be customised for more than one delivery type
    • if you request an 'All' client listing without filters, by default the results returned will be correspondence issued in the last 30 days
    • correspondence for all client types will be available in the list, not just individuals and sole traders
    • correspondence will be available in the portal the same day it issues from the ATO
    • the screens will have a new look that is easier to read and use
    • tax practitioners can search for up to five years of correspondence for a single client.

    In addition to these enhancements, the client correspondence list will be available to BAS agents in April 2016.

    More information is available on the ATO website.

    Portal irritants

    Throughout November and December 2015 the ATO visited a range of tax practices from sole practitioners to the ‘big 4’ accountancy firms and conducted interviews with 97 tax practitioners about their Portal experience. The ATO listened to issues raised by tax practitioners and is actively working to improve digital experiences.

    The most common irritants identified during the visits were not solely related to portal performance, but were aligned to:

    • communication around new services and the impacts on tax practices and their business process. For example, correspondence issued to myGov inboxes and the client correspondence list.
    • additional functionality such as visibility of activity statement delivery channels and client account types
    • the impact of our Service Standards.

    The ATO recognises that the current AUSkey system has some limitations including poor compatibility with internet browsers, mobile devices and cloud environments. To fix these problems, initiatives are underway to explore new ways to log on and use online services.

    Portal transition

    In 2015 the ATO focussed on improving the individual taxpayer digital experience through the provision of ATO Online. By developing these online services the ATO has built key foundation elements required to transition Tax and BAS Agent Portals to a single, secure and stable digital platform.

    The ATO is taking a consultative approach to transition the current high value legacy portal services to ATO Online. Practice management software developers are included in this consultation process so that the needs of tax and BAS agents are incorporated. An initial outcome from the consultation has identified key services tax and BAS agents need via the ATO or in their software.

    The complete transition will eventually result in the retirement of ageing systems and enable tax practitioners to choose how they utilise services; either from the ATO online environment and/or via practice management software.

    Existing services will still be available via the current portals until a full and successful transition is complete.

    GST

    Self-assessment for indirect taxes came into effect on 1 July 2012. From 1 July 2016 the four year period for amending assessments will start to expire. This means that it is important for taxpayers’ to claim their GST credits before their entitlements expire.

    Under self-assessment there is no longer the option of notifying us of an entitlement to GST credits (within the four year limit) and making the GST credit claim later.

    Taxpayers must claim GST and fuel tax credits within four years of the due date for lodgement of the BAS in which the credits are first attributable. If the credits are not claimed within this four-year period, a taxpayer’s entitlement to the credits ceases.

    Find out more information about self- assessment for indirect taxes, on the ATO website www.ato.gov.au in a document titled Guide to self-assessment for indirect taxes.

    For specific queries, contact GSTmail@ato.gov.au.

    Tips and links

    The Complex issue resolution service is available to resolve complex administrative issues and tax technical interpretation queries tax and BAS agents have been unable to resolve online or by phone. Tax practitioners can submit queries online using the Complex issue resolution form.

    The ATO is hearing from some tax professionals that ATO website content is too simple whilst others are saying that it is too complex. If you have some specific examples which might help the ATO fully understand issues and user concerns from a practical perspective, we would like you to let us know by emailing Juleigh.Cook@ato.gov.au

    Open forums are an opportunity to hear directly from tax practitioners about matters affecting the tax professional community. The forums provide a platform for discussion on how the environment and systems are changing, and allows the ATO to share important information to help practitioners prepare for change. To register to attend an open forum, go the ATO website.

    More information

    Tax practitioners can obtain more information on these topics from the professional association representatives. Tax practitioners should contact their representative to contribute items for future discussions.

      Last modified: 14 Sep 2018QC 27350