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  • Tax Time update – 27 July 2021

    Welcome/introduction

    The NSW Revenue Office has reached out to the ATO to use their networks to obtain input or to submit any questions to help inform a planned webinar and guidance material being developed on the NSW COVID Support scheme.

    Members were encouraged to send any input or questions to the TPSG mailbox as soon as possible, and the ATO will coordinate a consolidated response to NSW Revenue.

    Service delivery

    Call statistics

    • Call volumes for the week to date are 6% down on last year, however, when compared to a normal tax time, numbers are on par.
    • Calls relating to refunds have increased and the ato.gov.au website self-serve content is being updated to help direct some of the enquiries to the online channel.

    General line top enquiry topics have been:

    • linking codes
    • explain my refund/notice of assessment
    • myGovID assistance.

    Refunds

    • No issues or exceptions to report.

    ATO systems

    No issues to report with the exception of the legacy Business Portal outage on the weekend, which was restored by Monday 26 July.

    Communications

    Current campaigns and communications

    Single Touch Payroll (STP) end of year finalisations

    Reminders to finalise end-of-year reporting for STP have begun issuing and will continue over the coming weeks across various channels.

    In August, we will be writing directly to employers who have not finalised their data after the deadline, along with additional reminders in our newsletters informing people of the planned mailout and to give a final nudge.

    Superannuation guarantee reminders

    • Help and support outreach to employers’ accounts for the evolving situation due to COVID-19 across Australia.
    • The key focus for communications is to remind employers to pay their employees’ super payments to super funds by 28 July.
    • Last week reminders were posted on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn reinforcing these messages.
    • Published reminder messages in the
      • Tax professionals’ newsletters
      • Not-for-profit news service
      • Business Bulletins newsletter
      • Small Business Newsroom.
       

    Working from home (WFH) record-keeping

    Last week a range of products were issued, focussing on the importance of keeping records of hours worked and work-related purchases for future reporting. There was also a reminder about the methods available to calculate work related expenses (WRE) for this tax time.

    This included:

    • Social media posts, including a video with Tim Loh promoting WFH expenses and a reminder about the need to keep future records.
    • Our fourth Facebook Live event looked at busting some tax myths relating to a number of key issues raised by this group – in this edition Sally Bektas and Tim Loh talked through some examples of what can and can’t be claimed at tax time, WFH expenses and recording keeping.
    • For tax professionals, an article on record-keeping which linked to one of our June Tax Time videos that focused on WFH expenses and record keeping was published.

    This week's focus

    This week video 8 of our Tax Time video series for tax professionals covering protection and security for your clients and practice will be released. This will be promoted via social media and in our Tax professional’s newsletter.

    Other tax time topics in our Tax professional’s newsletter this week include:

    • checking Access Manager permissions for your staff
    • business tax deductions for COVID-19 safety expenses, such as hand sanitiser.

    Other topics of focus this week include:

    • a media release and a Facebook Live focusing on pre-fill availability
    • for small business, our July themes are focused on income, expenses and commercial leasing.

    Superannuation employer obligations

    Following member comments at the 20 July 2021 meeting regarding unfinalised STP reports for the 2020 FY, the information below was provided.

    • There are less than 2% of STP reports yet to be finalised for the 2020 FY.
    • To address those that are unfinalised a nudge messaging campaign will be used, however it is recognised that in some situations they may never be finalised (for example, where the business has wound up).
    • Unfinalised 2020 STP reports should not prevent the lodgment of an income tax return.

    Members were advised that there is guidance material on ato.gov.au. Some of the queries raised and links to corresponding guidance material have included:

    • the impact on an employee if their income statement is not tax ready
      • more information about unfinalised income statements or missing payment summaries can be accessed here
       
    • what do you need to do if a client has changed software throughout the year
      • generally, if an employer no longer has access to previous payroll software and needs to correct a record, they will need to contact the ATO
      • more information about changing payroll solutions or employees’ Payroll IDs during a financial year can be accessed here
       
    • where to find guidance about STP reporting issues or common errors
      • more information about common STP reporting issues can be accessed here
       
    • members were advised that the practice statement guidance on Division 7 penalty will be published later this week.

    Small business

    • A reminder that the Business portal retires this Friday 30 July 2021 – over 70% of businesses have adopted the Online services for business platform.
    • The Small Business Stewardship group is meeting this Thursday 29 July and will be focussing on the current COVID-19 impacts to small businesses.

    Debt and lodgment

    Current processes are largely focussed on engagement and trying to understand individual circumstances and what is preventing on-time reporting/payment. The ATO will continue to maintain contact with clients and provide the support that is needed at this time.

    The ATO acknowledged that there has been some feedback relating to current engagement and recent campaigns and will take on the feedback to improve the way our approach is framed. The ATO genuinely seeks to improve the client experience and members were encouraged to send any feedback or examples to the TPSG mailbox.

    Member issues / open discussion

    Deputy Commissioner Deborah Jenkins provided an overview of her temporary role overseeing Stimulus Response which is intended to both:

    • provide support to other agencies navigating the implementation of stimulus support and schemes (acting as the ATO conduit)
    • coordinate the ATO administrative levers and responses during periods of impact, working with key representatives from across the ATO.

    The work will also involve looking more broadly (locally and internationally) to the experiences and lessons regarding:

    • administrative practices
    • approaches and responses during the times of impact.

    Members queried whether there would be ‘blanket’ deferrals applied for activity statements due on 28 July 2021.

    The ATO is committed to providing the community with the support they require. The approach at this time is to maintain engagement. The community are encouraged to reach out to the ATO where they need help, with the ATO recognising that not everyone will be thinking about that at this time.

    A universal (blanket) response, such as a deferral, does not consider the varied individual circumstances and needs, and may have limited effectiveness for taxpayers. Hence our engagement is focussed on providing tailored support and have ensured resourcing available to do that quickly. The ATO is encouraging anyone who needs help to reach out and contact us.

    Members identified that there some opportunities for some ATO messaging to clarify which state based stimulus payments are assessable. The guidance material on the ato.gov.au website is updated as soon as the relevant legislation is in place.

    Tips and links

    Next meeting date

    The next Tax Practitioner Stewardship Group Tax time 2021 meeting will be held on Tuesday 3 August 2021.

    Last modified: 06 Aug 2021QC 66564