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  • Tax Time update – 6 July 2021

    Service Delivery

    Tax time is progressing well, and the volume of calls received being received are in line with forecasts. Wait times on the agent phone queue are averaging under one minute.

    ATO back end system processing checks are being completed with several ‘safety nets’ being lifted, and returns have commenced processing. Notice of Assessments are expected to begin to issue from next week.

    The STP finalisation date extension was well received by the tax professional community, although finalisation rates are currently only slightly less than those made by this time last year.

    ATO Systems

    Strong demand on ATO systems on 1 July resulted in some system degradation across the platforms. The ‘waiting room’ service was activated for ATO online for individuals. Systems are now stable and performing well.

    The ATO confirmed that when pre-fill data is received from the third party it is available at the same time for both OSfA and myTax. Agents are encouraged to wait for pre-fill data to become available before lodging income tax returns.

    Agents reported an issue with HELP balances not being in pre-fill. This was a timing issue and all data has now been included in pre-fill

    Income Statements received from Services Australia (SA) were visible to clients in the SA website prior to data being transferred to ATO and included in pre-fill

    The pre-fill availability page on ato.gov.au is updated daily as reported data becomes available.

    Communications

    Upcoming communication products - Intermediaries

    Tax Time 2021 video series

    Tax Time 2021 videos for tax professionals have been released weekly since the beginning of June and promoted in ATO newsletters and social media.

    This week we are releasing Video 6: Income you do and don’t need to include in the return. Past videos are all available on the prepare and lodge section on ato.gov.au. We are releasing eight videos in total, and all will be available by the end of July.

    Tax professional’s newsletter

    In addition to promoting this week’s video, scheduled highlights for our newsletter this week include:

    • Authorising new employees in RAM this tax time
    • Superannuation Guarantee due dates
    • GST tips this tax time
    • Access pre-fill reports in Online services for agents
    • Record keeping
    • WRE – depreciating expenses

    Upcoming communication products - other audiences

    Bulk correspondence

    • The majority of our Tax Time bulk emails have issued, with 4.3 million already despatched including 2.9 million in June.
    • We will be issuing correspondence to 52,000 tax agent clients about record keeping this Wednesday.
    • The correspondence focuses on the importance of record keeping for work related expense claims, with a link to our online record keeping guide. Agents have been advised of this planned mailout throughout the last fortnight.

    Members provided positive feedback about the record keeping for work related expense claims, advising the campaign was well targeted to the right client demographic and it provides agents with a tool to have a discussion with clients on the importance of record when claiming expenses on income tax returns.

    Campaigns

    • Our ‘Work Related Expenses’ (WRE) advertising campaign ran 4-30 June with the tagline 'To claim or not to claim'.
    • From 1 July and throughout tax time, we will be running search advertising directing people searching for ATO contact details to our Tax Time Essentials and Top Calls pages.

    Tax Time Toolkit

    Our full suite of Tax Time toolkits and products are now live on ato.gov.au. This includes:

    • 11 Tax Time Toolkits - one general toolkit for tax professionals which consolidates all products, as well as eight industry-specific toolkits, a dedicated small business toolkit and a new product for investors.
    • 39 occupation posters to help taxpayers understand what they can and can’t claim, specific to their occupation.

    Podcast

    • We’ve made a few changes to our podcast format for Tax Time this year
    • ATO Tax inVoice podcast episode 34 has now been published – Getting ready for Tax Time 2021

    Superannuation Employer Obligations

    The publishing of the transfer balance cap amounts for individuals has been delayed and are expected to be published from 15 July.

    The YourSuper tool is now available for clients.

    Small Business

    Small Business tax time is later than individual tax time and feedback was received that communication needs to be clear to differentiate between tax time for individuals and tax time for small business.

    From early July, sole traders who have received JobKeeper payments for themselves and any eligible employees will be able to find the total amount of JobKeeper payments they’ve received through pre-fill. The amount will be provided as ‘information only’ and will not be mapped to a label.

    To help small businesses accurately report their JobKeeper payments, we will be contacting businesses that have enrolled for JobKeeper and have an eligible business participant including sole traders, companies, trusts or partnerships (or their registered tax agents) through digital inbox, email or letter to let them know the total amount of JobKeeper payments they have received from 1 July 2020 to help them prepare their 2020–21 tax return.

    Small businesses and their agents should review and cross-check the payment amounts with their own records.

    These messages have been communicated through various ATO newsletters and articles and further information is available on the ATO website.

    Online Services for Business is performing well and is a complementary service to Online Services for Agents. The Business Portal will retire at the end of July.

    Debt and Lodgment

    As previously advised as part of the re-engagement approach firmer action activities have recommenced. The ATO are mindful of the impacts of COVID-19 lockdowns and are monitoring the situation and adapting approaches accordingly.

    Members requested that the ATO be mindful of the timing of action given that many taxpayers may be waiting on a refund to be assessed to balance an outstanding debt.

    Member issues / open discussion

    Members queried if the ATO have considered extending the working from home short cut method into the 2021-22 financial year.

    The ATO will take this opportunity to make our fixed rate method easier to use, and more information on that will be shared at a later date. For now, clients should keep receipts and a record of the hours they are working from home for 2021-22 claims.

    The best tip we can give people is to keep good records. The myDeductions tool in the ATO App is a great way to keep a track of your expenses.

    Next meeting date

    The next Tax Practitioner Stewardship Group Tax time 2021 meeting will be held on Tuesday 13 July.

    Last modified: 03 Aug 2021QC 66542