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  • Tax Time update – 14 July 2020

    Service Delivery

    Call volumes received by the ATO continue to trend higher than the same time last year, with a record number of calls received on Monday 13 July 2020.

    The tax agent phone line will continue to open on Saturdays and Sundays from 10.00am – 4.00pm (local times) throughout July.

    The ATO are seeing an increase in lodgments received compared to the same time last year.

    Individuals and Intermediaries

    The ATO acknowledge that taxpayers located in COVID-19 impacted lockdown areas may experience difficulties in terms of being able to meet with their tax practitioner to complete their lodgment obligations.

    The ATO understands that additional support will be required and are preparing communication products to support both agents and clients in impacted areas.

    Tax practitioners are encouraged to contact the ATO if additional support is required by their practice.

    Systems and maintenance

    ATO systems have been stable over the last week, with systems continuing to be monitored and regular changes being made in the background to enhance system performance.

    The ATO is aware of issues with the ATO Legal Database and are in the process of making changes to improve the performance of this platform.

    Tax practitioners should review the ATO’s system maintenance page for details of scheduled maintenance and links to troubleshooting advice, technical help and the Performance Dashboards.

    Subscribe to Tax professionals alerts to receive email or SMS notification for unplanned Online services for agents or PLS maintenance windows and functionality issues.

    Digital Services

    Pre-fill data

    The majority of private health insurance and welfare data has now been loaded into prefill, with interest and dividend data continuing to be loaded as received.

    The 2020 Pre-fill availability webpage on ato.gov.au for tax time is live and will be updated daily as data becomes available.

    Digital service provider (DSP) update

    Overall DSP readiness is high and there are no major concerns with those outstanding.

    Online Services for Agents (OSfA)

    There were no significant new issues or unscheduled outages in the week 6 – 12 July.

    Practitioner Lodgment Service (PLS)

    There were no significant new issues or unscheduled outages in the week 6 – 12 July.

    Communications

    The Tax Time 2020 Toolkit- General and Small Business Tax Time Toolkit are now live

    The ‘Working from Home’ advertising campaign went live on 22 June and will run until 25 July, directing taxpayers to information about how to claim the 80 cents per hour method for each hour spent working from home.

    Tax Time 2020 video series

    There is a Tax Time 2020 quick tips videoExternal Link available, with the latest video starring Assistant Commissioner Sylvia Gallagher reminding agents of STP deadlines and to only use information that is tax ready. Sylvia also speaks about the payment plan functionality in Online Services for Agents.

    Supporting articles include:

    • Only lodge with ‘tax ready’ information - how to access income statement information and what to do if the information is not yet tax ready.
    • A better payment experience – payment plan functionality in Online services for agents.

    Articles in development

    Tax Time topics

    • Reporting business income.
    • What’s new in pre-filling? – article about new functions in prefill this year.
    • Don't let your clients miss out on deductions for payments to workers.

    Other topics

    • Extension of contact centre hours.
    • Taxable payments annual report (TPAR).
    • Scam alerts.
    • 2020 depreciation and capital allowances tool.

    Cash flow boost stimulus measure

    There are a small amount of cases where claims are being held up for eligibility reviews. These are related to the evidence needed to prove that they were carrying on a business prior to 12 March 2020 and had made eligible payments.

    Some claimants who did not have an ABN, or who weren’t registered for PAYGW on ATO systems prior to 12 March 2020 and have lodged back-dated information to support potential eligibility. These taxpayers have been asked for further evidence to support their claims.

    JobKeeper program update and changes to childcare sector

    The feedback provided by tax practitioners on additional functionality to assist in completing tax returns, particularly for including JobKeeper payments in accessible income, is being considered by the ATO.

    The suggestions provided to the ATO include:

    • Providing the information in business transactions through payment systems prefill, which can be provided to tax practitioners as a report.
    • Providing tax practitioners with a list of ABNs that are enrolled in and receiving JobKeeper payments.
    • Ensure the information continues to be displayed through the online services landing page.

    Changes to the childcare sector

    On 8 June 2020 the Government announced changes to the childcare sector in a press releaseExternal Link by the Minister for Education.

    As well as changes to the JobKeeper payment (which are administered by the ATO), the Minister also announced changes to payments administered by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE), including:

    • a stop to the temporary Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) relief packages that were in place taking effect from 12 July and
    • the reintroduction of the childcare subsidy and additional childcare subsidy, as well as the commencement of a new transition payment taking effect from 13 July.

    Changes to the JobKeeper rules were registered on 6 July and come into effect from Fortnight 9, which commences 20 July. Under the new rulesExternal Link, JobKeeper payments will cease for:

    • employees of an approved provider of childcare services, if the employees’ ordinary duties relate principally to the operation of those services and
    • eligible business participants where the business entity is an approved provider of a childcare service.

    Eligibility is to be determined based on whether an employee’s duties are principally related to the provision of a childcare service. The explanatory statementExternal Link and updates to the ATO web content provide some examples to assist in making this determination.

    It is important to note, that although these changes come into effect on 20 July, they will not impact on the August declaration process which covers Fortnight 8 (up until 19 July). But they will impact on the September declaration process (which fortnights 9, 10 and 11).

    For more information and useful links see also:

    Tips and links

    • Over the weekend of 20–21 June 2020, the latest ATO Online system release was completed. The release includes improvements designed to provide a better experience for super providers and tax professionals as well as updates to the ATO online simulator.
    • When you dispose of a depreciating asset (that is, it's sold, lost, destroyed, or you stop using it, or expect never to use it again), you may need to make a balancing adjustment (the adjustable value minus termination value).
    • On the application of the Commissioner’s remedial powers: the Commissioner of Taxation has limited powers to modify the operation of tax law in circumstances where entities will benefit, or at least be no worse off, as a result of the modification. We have provided an index on our website of situations where the Commissioner's remedial powers were considered and not applied.

    Next meeting date

    The next Tax Practitioner Stewardship Group Tax time 2020 meeting will be held on Tuesday 21 July.

    Last modified: 20 Jul 2020QC 63217