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  • Straight from the source – May 2021

    Growing up I idolised my eldest cousin. He was smart, funny artistic and resourceful. He introduced me and my siblings to hide and seek…and it was only years later that we discovered he was not actually hiding but missing in action; too cool to play with the little kids. But we loved him nonetheless because he helped us with our homework especially research. He owned the entire set of the Britannica encyclopaedia, leather bound.

    One day I asked how they were going to keep the encyclopaedia current, what with all the technological innovations that were starting to emerge. My cousin envisaged the future, telling me about super computers storing information at universities. He also told me that one day I would be able to access information anytime with the touch of a button.

    I waited for this revolution all through primary and secondary school years. It wasn’t until uni that I finally got to see a glimpse of what my cousin was talking about. I went from the fine pages of the encyclopaedia to microfiche, floppy discs, computers and more.

    The emergence of the first internet providers in the late 1980s were set to change the rules of engagement in all aspects of our lives. There was a lot of trial and error and we have had to build trust and security, but I couldn’t imagine my life without online connectivity. Don’t misunderstand; I still enjoy, and yes crave, human interaction and engagement, but I do love the freedom online connectivity provides.

    Thirty years later, the ATO has developed Online services for business. It is the new, secure and contemporary way for all business to interact with the ATO online at any time. This new service replaces the Business Portal, which many NFPs have relied on over the years.

    Online services for business has been developed with users and offers the familiar services from the Business Portal, with some new features so that you can:

    • create payment plans
    • view your communication history with us
    • access all the organisations you manage in one place with ‘Switch ABN’
    • customise the home screen to your preferences.

    A lot of effort was made to consult with businesses and organisations during the development of Online services for business. We undertook extensive consultation and ran private and public beta testing, allowing users (including NFPs) to provide feedback and help shape our new service.

    I want to thank all NFPs who participated in the betas and provided their feedback – you have helped make this service better for all users, businesses and not-for-profits alike!

    The Business Portal will not be around for much longer, so if you haven’t already, I encourage you to make the switch today! If you need help, we have developed some handy how-to guides to step you through accessing and performing different tasks in Online services for business, and you can always call us on 13 28 66 if you have questions.

    On a final note, as we get closer to tax time, I would like to reinforce that our main priority is to make it as easy as possible for people do the right thing. We have a range of resources to assist people, including our Tax time essentials page which will be updated for 2021. Our key focus areas this year are work related expenses (including working from home expenses), rental properties (both income and deductions), and capital gains tax for shares and cryptocurrency.

    My cousin’s wisdom has served me well throughout the years. In response to the proliferation of smart phones and other devices, he once remarked that sending our children to school without the tools everyone else has is akin to disadvantaging them.

    Similarly, online connectivity is mandatory for all NFPs if you are going to navigate the future competitively, you need to have the right tools.

    Find out more:  

    • See what tools we have to help your not-for-profit at Getting help.
    • Access Online services for business and find out more at ato.gov.au/osb
    • We’re here to help. Check out our Essentials (to be updated soon!) if you need assistance this tax time.
    Last modified: 05 May 2021QC 65537