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  • Tax Time update – 10 August 2021

    Requests for ATO assessed deferrals

    The ATO advised that by the end of August 2021, within the parameters outlined below, agents will be able to request ATO assessed deferrals for a limited number of their clients over the phone, in addition to the existing online service.

    The phone service will allow agents to request a deferral for up to five clients per call per existing timeframe requirements below:

    • monthly obligations up to 14 days
    • quarterly obligations up to 21 days
    • annual obligations up to 28 days.

    The ATO advised that they are reviewing the current online deferral request form, following feedback from some tax professionals that the form sends back error messages without explanation of what is causing the error.

    The ATO thanked those members involved in the consultation held last week for providing insights and information which has been essential in helping the ATO understand and respond.

    Members were encouraged to send any examples of errors being received in relation to the online application for a deferral form to the TPSG mailbox.

    Service delivery

    No significant changes from the previous week, call volumes have been consistent, wait times are well within standard.

    ATO systems

    Performance across all ATO channels is good. No issues to report with the exception of some minor system degradation for online services, which was quickly remediated.


    Key updates

    Tax treatment of COVID-19 Disaster payments

    Updates to the law to consider COVID-19 Disaster Payments as non-assessable, non-exempt (NANE) income have passed both houses and received Royal Assent on 10 August 2021.

    The ATO will begin issuing communications on this topic including:

    • a number of updates to our web content to confirm the tax treatment of these payments
    • updates to our contact centre scripting
    • information on ATO Community and Ask Alex
    • social media posts
    • messages to tax professionals through our Tax professionals newsletter.

    The ATO are working with Services Australia to identify clients affected and will provide them with advice as to what to do. Instructions for clients seeking amendments were also published on the ATO website.

    The messaging on this topic will be highlighted in the lead up to, and during Tax Time 2022 to reiterate the tax treatment of NANE payments received during the current financial year.

    Declaring foreign income

    Communication this week will have a focus on reporting foreign income, reminding people about the different types of foreign income they need to declare if they are an Australian resident for tax purposes.

    Release of the ‘interactive tax time video’

    The ATO has released a ‘How to lodge your tax return’ interactive tax time video. The video is aimed at individuals and includes information about taxpayers’ lodgment options and recommendations on how to check if an agent is registered. The video will be promoted through various channels over the coming weeks.

    Tax inVoice podcast series

    The second episode of the new tax time podcast format is available now. This episode shares the key things that tax professionals need to know about Tax Time 2021. The next episode will focus on Small Business topics.

    Superannuation and employer obligations

    The ATO advised that Senate has passed a full Senate order for the production of documents listing employers with an annual turnover greater than $10 million who received Jobkeeper payments.

    The motion and the order can be found on page 64 of the linked HansardThis link will download a file.

    The ATO will provide further updates on this matter to members in due course.

    Small business

    Members were reminded that the COVID-19 landing page directs you to further detailed content, which is being updated within hours of the information being received by the ATO.

    Debt and lodgment

    The ATO has listened to feedback received from the community on current debt and lodgment activities and confirmed that firmer action campaigns have been suspended for areas affected by lockdowns.

    Member issues / open discussion

    • A member raised an issue in trying to submit a STP amendment for the 2020 financial year through practice software and was advised by the service provider that they were unable to do that because the ATO had requested they shut that functionality off.

    The ATO confirmed it has not requested any limitation of functionality and that STP functionality should be available for up to five years in arrears. The relevant team members would work with the member offline to understand and resolve the issue.

    • Members raised an issue regarding the inability to view a consolidated report of STP finalisations for clients.

    The ATO acknowledged the current system limitation and would look again to determine if there were any viable alternate solutions. An update will be provided to members in due course.

    • Members queried whether the pre-fill option would be available to use for amending returns for clients receiving Non Assessable Non Exempt (NANE) COVID-19 Disaster payments.

    The ATO emphasised that not all payments made by Services Australia can be pre-filled, explaining that we are working closely with Services Australia to identify those impacted and will provide a targeted communication that explains what steps the individual will need to take.

    The ATO will supplement direct communication with online content and guidance.

    • A member queried whether there was any further update or position regarding the deductibility of expenses which were connected to the NANE treatment of the business support payments.

    The ATO advised that this is currently being considered and a further update will be provided to the group once available.

    • A member queried whether work from home expense calculation method for 2021–22 had been determined.

    The ATO advised that it is monitoring the current environment and considering this issue. An update will be provided to members as soon as possible.

    Tips and links

    Keeping current with website changes

    There are a few ways to keep up to date with changes to the ATO website and legal database, depending on your preference.

    Key updates to are summarised on our What’s new page, which includes details of the updated page, the date, and a short description of the page contents or the update. The results can be filtered by the different sections of our website, and the timeframe of updates.

    We also have subscription services available that allow you to be notified when we update our website or legal database. Subscription updates can be tailored to different topic types and frequencies and are available via Email or RSS.

    Our news servicesExternal Link also bring attention to any key website or news updates, along with relevant information on certain topics or to particular audiences.

    Useful links

    Next meeting date

    The next Tax Practitioner Stewardship Group Tax time 2021 meeting will be held on Tuesday 17 August.

    Last modified: 24 Aug 2021QC 66668