• 24 September 2014

    On Wednesday 24 September 2014, the ATO, tax practitioners, professional associations and software developers met to discuss the future of the industry and the tax and superannuation systems.

    At the meeting, tax industry representatives discussed the first steps in working together on:

    • the 85% tax practitioner lodgment program, the reliability and stability of the portals and the ongoing consultation process with the industry
    • the transition of services from the electronic lodgment service (ELS) to Standard Business Reporting from now to 2016
    • what the industry might look like in 2020 and what that means to practitioners and their practices.

    Better experience

    Steve Hamilton outlined the ATO’s desire to facilitate the tax industry of the future by providing a better service and a better experience.

    The portals and ELS are critical services for tax practitioners. Both are ageing and ELS does not provide all the functionality to meet the needs of tax practitioners. The ATO is committed to providing better services that are quicker and easier for tax practitioners to use.

    As the services transition over the next two years, the ATO will keep tax practitioners informed and continue to support the portal and ELS. Where there are issues, particularly with the portal, the ATO will work quickly to remedy them, where possible, and communicate the outcomes to tax practitioners.

    During the transition period, the ATO will progressively build the priority portal services in ATO Online and make them available to software developers to include in their products. The transition to ATO Online is intended to be seamless to practitioners, as ATO Online will be accessed the same way as practitioners access the portals. The only difference being a more reliable and improved service.

    The ATO is working with software developers and professional associations to make the services and experiences currently in the portal, available to software developers. This means software providers will be able to offer preferred services in their practice management software. For example, client updates will be visible immediately, rather than delayed as the system updates overnight.

    All standard business reporting enabled forms and services for income tax will be available from January 2015.

    Thinking of the future

    Matters of immediate concern to the industry

    Participants discussed matters that are presenting an immediate concern to practitioners including:

    • stability of the portals
    • the tax practitioner 85%lodgment program
    • ongoing consultation process with the industry.

    Anticipated areas of concern to the industry for 2015–16

    Participants discussed anticipated concerns relating to changes to ATO systems in 2015–16. The 2015–16 discussion focussed on:

    • the level of practitioner awareness of the changes to electronic services over the next two years
    • opportunities to work together to support practitioners during the transition to 2016
    • opportunities to support practitioners as they change how their practices operate and how they work with their clients
    • communication strategies around ELS to Standard Business Reporting.

    What will the industry look like in 2020?

    Participants discussed the future of the industry and what it might look like in 2020. The discussion focussed on:

    • expected changes to the industry in 2020
    • expansion of digital services
    • services practitioners will provide to individuals and businesses
    • level of practitioner awareness of any changes, for example, the possible industry changes with the expansion of digital services and changing community expectations
    • how do we work together (that is the ATO, tax practitioners, professional associations and software developers) to prepare practitioners and their practices for the changing environment
    • what risks exist that may hinder a successful and connected industry.

    Next steps

    Following this meeting, three sub groups will meet to:

    1. focus on addressing current matters of concern to the industry (led by the ATO)
    2. consider what needs to be done to successfully transition practitioners from ELS to Standard Business Reporting and portal services to ATO Online in 2015–16 in consultation with the professional associations and software developers
    3. consider the future of the industry looking towards 2020.
      Last modified: 03 Dec 2015QC 46077