• 3. Activity statement: move to increase electronic interactions

    Meeting discussion

    Kerry O’Loghlin was invited to attend the meeting to discuss the issues raised by tax practitioners and professional associations about the move, from 1 July 2014, to cease issuing paper activity statements. This also provided an opportunity for attendees to provide input on the support and tools that may assist tax practitioners and/or their clients to make the transition to electronic interactions.

    Prior to the meeting, professional association members were invited to provide Kerry O’Loghlin with issues raised by their members to enable further investigation to determine if there are systemic or practitioner specific concerns.

    Kerry O’Loghlin discussed the extensive consultation activities and engagements that occurred with the practitioner community prior to deployment. Practitioner feedback indicates overall support of the intent of the change, although there is recognition that some clients/agents were not as capable or confident to manage the change.

    Current analysis shows that there has been no adverse impact as a result of the changes to the levels of on-time compliance or an increase in the number of tax practitioner requests for lodgment deferrals.

    Issues discussed:

    • Whilst there is support for the intent of the change, there is still a knowledge gap in the practitioner community around which activity statements will be received by paper or electronically. This could have been resolved through a list/report which identified clients impacted by the change. In response, it was noted that the trigger for the change was an electronic lodgment post 1 July. The ATO continued to send paper activity statements until an electronic lodgment was received, so clients were impacted at different stages depending on the timing of their lodgement.
    • ATO reminders: Some practitioners would like to see the ATO provide reminders of the upcoming activity statement lodgment dates, most attendees thought that there should be promotion of the current tools available to self–manage; such as smart phones and use of the small business calendar. It was noted that the activity statement due dates are consistent each month/quarter and they have not changed.
    • Online Activity statement notification: The email notification could be improved by including the relevant activity statement period (July to September) as well as moving the client list from the bottom of the email to the top. Some attendees were not aware that there is a hyperlink at the top of the email that moves the user directly to the client list at the bottom. Rather than move the client list to the top the ATO will consider wording changes to make it clear that there is a hyperlink.
    • Reports or tools suggested to assist agents: Practitioner members noted the following as report types that would be most beneficial:
      • ‘whole of practice report/list’ which provides visibility across the practice, showing the lodgment obligations, status and converged view of clients (i.e. activity statement and income tax information) would be beneficial to practitioners.
      • Delivery channel and activity statement role report - show the delivery channel (portals, ECI, ELS) for receipt/lodgment and the email address details (where notification of activity statement availability is sent) for entire client list without the agent having to view each client individually.
       

    Attendees were informed that the ATO is currently investigating what priority can be given to these changes.

    Attendees also raised issues around not receiving online activity statement notifications and also instances of clients not receiving the exemption based on lodgment patterns.

    Attendees have been asked to send through client specific information to enable investigation to the LWG Secretariat.

    Post meeting response

    Reference

    LWG 1512/02

    Agenda Topic

    Activity statements – electronic interactions

    Action item

    Update the online activity statement notification incorporating members’ feedback

    Status

    Closed

    On the 20 January 2015, the LWG Secretariat informed members of the changes to the online activity statement notification. Based on member feedback the following changes were made:

    Included ‘next’ in the email subject line and the text main heading to highlight the activity statement referred to is the ‘next’ activity statement, and

    Highlighted a ‘Click here’ link which will take you directly to your list of clients.

    The suggestion to include the activity statement period information was not able to be accommodated. The email notification may include activity statements for a variety of periods (eg monthly and/or quarterly).  Each period would need to be added next to each entity and would increase the size of the message, which could impact the inbound and outgoing email message traffic.

    Responsibility

    Kerry O’Loghlin

     

    Reference

    LWG 1512/03

    Agenda Topic

    Activity statements – electronic interactions

    Action item

    Attendees to provide the LWG Secretariat with client specific/issue specific information for further investigation.

    Status

    A practitioner member provided their client specific issue, which is around not receiving the online activity statement notification. The issue is currently been investigated.

    Responsibility

    LWG Secretariat

      Last modified: 13 Mar 2015QC 44481