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  • Tax Time update – 25 August 2020

    Service Delivery

    Call volumes are slowing down, however calls are still 7% up on last year, with wait times averaging around 90 seconds. The length of calls is longer than last year with the nature of calls coming through continuing to focus on stimulus measures and usual tax time queries.

    The tax agent phone line opened in July is still operating, with over 250 calls received on the weekend.

    Communications

    Tax professional’s newsletter

    Last week’s newsletter included articles on:

    • National Scams Awareness Week.
    • JobKeeper eligibility update.
    • New Fast Key Code (FKC) available for agents who have JobKeeper telephony enquiries.

    This week’s newsletter will include articles on:

    Articles in development

    COVID-19

    • More employees now able to access JobKeeper.
    • COVID-19 and car fringe benefits.

    Superannuation

    • Change to age limits on superannuation contributions.

    Other

    • Activity statement reminder notifications.
    • Corporate tax transparency data extraction.
    • 19-year tax fraud probe ends in jail time for scheme promoter.
    • Our ATO Corporate plan has been released.
    • ATO presence in Geelong will continue.

    Individual communications

    • Help and Support messages on a variety of topics via social media – rental deductions and translated tax time toolkit materials.

    Small business communications

    Cash flow boost stimulus measure

    Allocation of the second round of cash flow boosts is continuing and tracking as forecasted.

    Numbers of cash flow boost complaints about eligibility have reduced significantly. The ATO acknowledges that there are a very small number of aged eligibility review cases and these are being actioned as a priority.

    Ineligibility of entities new to business is one of the themes we are seeing come through in recent complaints. This issue is also being raised in some of the cash flow boost related objections we have received.

    JobKeeper update

    The legislation for the changes to the JobKeeper rules that took effect earlier this month regarding eligibility based on the 1 July employment status have been passed and web guidance has been updated to reflect this. There was also an announcement on the payment discretion until the end of August, where employers have the ability to make payments for fortnight 10, and 11 until the end of this month.

    The ATO has allocated additional staff to manage cases that have applied for Commissioner’s discretion regarding eligible business participants. This has resulted in a reduction in call volumes requesting updates on their cases.

    The ATO is receiving deferral requests for applications to enter JobKeeper. Some of these relate back to the commencement of the program, and a number of these have been from tax practitioners stating they were either overwhelmed or that they have misunderstood the process regarding eligibility.

    Legislation to extend the current date of 31 December 2020 is before Parliament this week. This must be passed prior to allow the Treasurer to determine rules regarding the extension of JobKeeper to the end of March 2021. The ATO is awaiting rules to be passed so that guidance material can be published, and taxpayers and their agents can be contacted to advise what needs to be completed for JobKeeper 2.

    Tips and links

    • We publish information about how we are performing against our commitments to service. By doing so, we honour our commitment to transparent management, accountability for results and client-centred service delivery.
    • The July 2020 ATO impersonation scam report provides a snapshot of the scam intelligence we received and the mitigation strategies we employed.

    Next meeting date

    The next Tax Practitioner Stewardship Group Tax time 2020 meeting will be held on Tuesday 1 September.

    Last modified: 31 Aug 2020QC 63524