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  • Tax Time 2022 update – 26 July

    Key messages and themes from the Tax Practitioner Stewardship Group (TPSG) Tax Time meeting, held on 26 July 2022.

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    Role changes for attendees are noted below:

    • Les De Wind was an apology, Jason Aitchison represented Lodge and Pay.

    TPSG external member apologies:

    • Debra Anderson, Tax Practitioners Board
    • Mark Morris, BNR Partners
    • Steven Inglis, Findex.


    Members were welcomed and advised of changes to ATO representatives for the meeting.

    In response to content included in the key messages from the meeting held 19 July 2022, a member clarified that a working group focussed on crypto has been formed but includes only external members of the National Tax Liaison Group (NTLG) and not ATO members.

    Action item updates

    Action items below were closed as relevant information was disseminated on 26 July 2022.

    A member advised that another building entity has collapsed and queried whether there was any advice for agents who have, or take on, an impacted employee client.

    Our advice for agents supporting clients impacted by the collapse of their employer is as follows.

    When a client approaches a tax agent following the collapse of the entity that had employed them, the tax agent should take the following steps to ensure the employee receives their super guarantee (SG) entitlements:

    • Advise their client to check whether their super has been paid. They can do this by
      • using ATO Online (via their myGov account) to view the super contributions that have been paid into their fund by their employer
      • calling their super fund to see if their super has been paid.
    • Agents and their clients can also use the Estimate my super tool on our website if they're unsure how much super their employer should have paid.
    • If clients confirm their super hasn’t been paid or hasn’t been paid in full, they can contact us to ask for a review by using our online tool to report their employer.

    We review every complaint about unpaid super that we receive. The earlier employees tell us if they know there is a problem, the greater chance we have of ensuring their super is paid.

    When a company becomes deregistered, or an employer becomes insolvent, it can be difficult for us to recover SG owed to employees.

    We work with insolvency practitioners to ensure that SG obligations are understood, which includes ensuring that employers pay all employee entitlements that are due and payable (including super).

    We provide information on our website in relation to how super affects various insolvency administrations.

    Note: If an employee hasn't been paid wages or other amounts covered by enterprise bargaining, they should contact the Fair Work Ombudsman for support in recovering those amounts.

    A member highlighted that accounting firms are struggling to get 2021 deferral requests approved, with slow response times or refusal causing concern in the agent community.

    We committed to reviewing deferral request data (e.g., rate of approvals, refusals) to determine if there are any issues or opportunities to improve the agent experience.

    Our approach is to support tax agents and their clients through the deferral program and concessional lodgments.

    There hasn't been a change in ATO business rules regarding deferral approvals. Staff closely assess deferral requests based on individual circumstances. An increase in deferrals being partially approved has been noted. This can partly be attributed to the requested duration not falling within guidelines.

    Agents experiencing challenges are urged to contact us for tailored support with their lodgment program.

    Supported lodgment program and when to contact us

    If a registered agent or their client is experiencing unexpected or unforeseen circumstances that affect their ability to lodge a client's return on time, they can request a lodgment deferral.

    If an agent’s entire practice has been disrupted, they're experiencing longer-term difficulties meeting their lodgment program or they're overwhelmed, they may be eligible for assistance through the supported lodgment program, regardless of the size of their practice. The program co-designs a tailored lodgment program, based on their particular circumstances, that seeks to get them back on track.

    Submitting a request for supported lodgment program assistance

    Agents can submit a request for assistance through a supported lodgment program, by sending a request through Online services for agents Practice mail:

    • select the topic Debt and Lodgment
    • select the subject Supported lodgment program
    • include the reasons for requesting assistance in the free text field.

    We’ll need to know:

    • contact details, including contact name, email address and phone number
    • the circumstances that have affected the agent's ability to meet lodgment program dates
    • the steps they've taken to resolve these circumstances and the extent to which they're currently affecting their practice
    • the approximate length of time they may need to overcome their current situation.

    In addition, we've recently updated our support material web content to make it simpler to find and access a range of helpful information in one simple entry point.

    ATO updates

    Updates were provided from:

    • ATO Systems and Digital services
    • Service Delivery
    • Marketing and Communication
    • Lodge and Pay
    • Individuals
    • Small Business
    • Superannuation and Employer obligations.

    No significant issues identified. Tax time is progressing well. Key points noted included:

    • As of 19 July, 1.1 million 2021–22 refunds have issued, totalling $3.2 billion in refunds.
    • Average refunds have increased compared to last year, partly due to the changes in the low and middle-income tax offset (LMITO).
    • 19.4 million STP records have finalised in pre-fill, an increase on last year by 1.9 million and equates to about 93.2% of income statements finalised.
    • An upcoming live Facebook event will coincide with a tax time media release highlighting key topics of interest and reminders for tax time.
    • The latest tax time video for tax agents will be released this week. It explores a range of toolkits available to support agents assisting both individual and small business clients this tax time.

    Member comments

    Members queried if:

    • larger than normal work-related deduction claims were contributing to the increased refund amounts
    • the correlation between increased working from home expenses being claimed and a reduction of motor vehicle expenses in individual returns would be examined.

    We advised that it's currently too early to examine and determine these types of patterns.

    Regarding Operation Protego, a member shared instances where GST fraud is becoming more prominent in the community, and requested we communicate the rising trend to tax practitioners, alerting the profession to be more aware.

    Member issues and insights

    Issues raised out of the session

    Members reported clients of registered agents had received myTax promotional material in error.

    We advised the communication was intended to be issued to self-preparers who had lodged on paper within the last 12 months. It was found that the communication issued to clients of agents, who had lodged back-year returns via paper. Controls will be examined to minimise the possibility that these clients receive future communications.

    A member shared examples of issues being experienced in relation to interest declared in 2021–22 tax returns and noting discrepancies and suggested some improvements.

    We advised members the system is working as designed and is a practical example of why we recommend clients and agents wait until August to prepare returns, confirming that no further changes will be made this year.

    A member requested we issue communications and requested Services Australia revise their current web content for pandemic disaster leave payments received.

    We provided an update, confirming the assessable payments are not included in client’s Centrelink payment summaries or pre-filled in their tax returns. Services Australia’s website advises that the figure is included in a letter issued to clients.

    In a recent live podcast with ATO Assistant Commissioner Tim Loh and General Manager of Services Australia Hank Jongen, viewers were advised they can obtain relevant payment figures by accessing either:

    • their Centrelink online account
    • the Centrelink app.

    A member noted that a large majority of senior Australians don’t have access to myGov or online accounts. We advised that options for these clients include checking their bank accounts or contacting Services Australia to confirm the amount, as the ATO doesn’t have access to this data.

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    Last modified: 03 Aug 2022QC 70139