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BAS Agent Association Group key messages 23 March 2023

Key topics discussed at the BAS Agent Association Group meeting 23 March 2023.

Last updated 3 May 2023

Welcome and introduction

ATO co-chair Assistant Commissioner Kath Anderson welcomed members, asked if there were any conflicts of interest to be declared, none declared and reminded the group of confidentiality requirements.

The ATO thanked departing member Lielette Calleja for her contribution to the BAS Agent Association Group (BASAAG) and welcomed incoming member Irwin Bushnell who will represent the Institute of Public Accountants.

Members discussed the current membership of the group and how it might be adjusted over the next period.

2030 Tax Practitioner Experience Strategy

Strategic Goal 1 – Protect the high levels of engagement and integrity in the Tax, Super and Registry Systems

Tax Practitioner Board

Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) Secretary/Chief Executive Officer provided update covering:

  • introduction of the Treasury Laws Amendment (2023 Measures No.1) Bill 2023 on 16 February 2023
  • expanded compliance program (ECP)
  • issues and learnings from recent cases
  • TPB sentiment survey.

The TPB confirmed its commitment to consultation with the tax profession, professional associations, consumers and other government agencies. With appropriate integrity, these processes can support improved relationships and collaboration with stakeholders, shared commercial and legal insights, enhanced public policy outcomes and early identification and resolution of risks and issues.

While acknowledging the benefits of consultation, the TPB also recognises the risks relating to breaches of confidentiality, unmanaged conflicts of interest and failure to act with integrity. Therefore, the TPB is reviewing its management of the risks associated with TPB consultation. Further, the TPB is testing and assessing its own guidance materials to determine further guidance is required.

TPB noted that recent cases had a focus on the importance of professional and ethical standards, upholding integrity, confidentiality and managing conflicts. Many tax practitioners and some associations had taken a pro-active approach. They are reviewing their own performance, processes, systems and guidance to ensure they are upholding standards set by government and expected by the community. TPB encourages these individual improvements of tax practitioners and will continue to work with the profession and partner agencies to coordinate and clarify guidance.

80% of taxpayers say the receive good service from their tax practitioner. Many have a long-term relationship with their agent.

Member comments
  • There is some concern about the lack of qualifications, experience, and knowledge of practitioners regarding payroll noting Single Touch Payroll (STP) is not a tax law. What is the TPB’s role in relation and agents performing STP reporting.
  • TPB(I) 38/2023 What is a BAS service?External Link is comprehensive with great examples, would like to see this document spread widely through business for BAS agents to be recognised for what they do.
  • Communication about the ECP’s important. Most BAS Agents would not be aware of it.

Action item


Due date

June 2023


TPB representative

Action item details

TPB to bring trends and demographics information relating to practitioners to the next meeting including total numbers, new registrations, and terminated/resigned from the registered agents.

Strategic Goal 2 – Safeguard the security of the tax, super and registry data and systems

Client agent linking

The ATO advised members:

  • The project is part of the wider program of work aimed at securing the environment.
  • To date the program has been rolled out to public and multinational businesses and the Top 500 private and wealthy groups. Government entities were recently added, noting many are not linked to an agent.
  • We are committed to understanding the impacts on agents and the support needed. We have been consulting with the association representatives about further rollouts focusing on small business needs.
  • Based on the feedback from the pilot group and Phase 2 roll out, we have been continuing to develop client experience changes that balance the need to maintain the security that is being implemented but maximise the client and agent experience of the nomination process. For example, enabling agents to see who has nominated them.
  • Individuals and non-corporate entities are not in scope for this phase of the program and will require a different design.
Member comments
  • The current manual process works but will not be viable at scale as the exception process will lead to many calls.
  • There is already a Relationship Authorisation Manager (RAM) process and there is a need to educate agents about why it cannot be used.

Action item


Due date



ATO and BASAAG members

Action item details

The ATO to consider an out of session with BASAAG members to understand and work through the issues in relation to myGovID and RAM accesses.

Strategic Goal 3 – Improve tax performance for clients of tax practitioners

Online services for agents

The ATO provided an update on Online services for agents, including authorised accesses and access to super guarantee charge (SGC) information.

Authorised access – the original design to prohibit an agent from accidentally overlinking an existing BAS agent is not viable for large firms. A new design based on a positive declaration is now being scoped.

Access to SGC Screen – this is a significant piece of work and is not currently on the forward IT plan. However, we will continue to look for opportunities to add to other projects.

Member comments
  • The issues will be compounded when client agent linking is deployed.
  • The box that enables overlinking, should be separated from other boxes to reduce the risk that the box will be accidently ticked.
  • Wording in the pop-up window will need to be strong to be effective.

Action item


Due date

June 2023



Action item details

The ATO to bring wording for pop-up warning/declaration to the June BASAAG meeting.

STP payroll data use to address SG non-compliance

The ATO discussed the expanding use of STP data to address super guarantee (SG) non-compliance, noting:

  • We are undertaking work to match, at scale, Member Account Transaction Service contributions to STP reporting at the employee level. This will be used to enhance our ability to identify SG shortfalls and protect retirement savings.
  • While we use these data sets to identify non-compliance now, we are looking at how we can build off on this work to use the data to help employers understand how and when they got off track for their employees.
  • We will be in a better position to help and support employers who are getting off track with their SG obligations and continue to maintain a low tolerance for employers who are not doing the right things and not engaging with the ATO to remediate any SG non-payment.
  • Trends of incorrect reporting will be identified, and we will work with our stakeholders to identify opportunities to improve quality of reporting from either funds or employers.
  • Our existing compliance regime will continue and will not be affected whilst the work is being done to optimise the use of our data. However, over time we would expect that the need for employees to complain about unpaid super should reduce as the ATO increases its ability to identify and respond to non-payment in a more contemporaneous way.

The key focus for employers and agents is to:

  • Ensure that your reporting and payment is timely, complete, and accurate.
  • Use the STP corrections framework to correct mistakes as soon as you notice them.
  • Check that your payroll governance processes are appropriate for your business and are reviewed regularly.
  • Remember that SG payments need to be received by the employees’ super fund by the due date – this is especially relevant if you use a commercial clearing house.
Member comments
  • The need for an educational campaign that prompts employees to be more interested in their super and understand it is part of their pay.
  • Many employers pay the overdue super but do not lodge SGC statements and this will soon be exposed.
  • The dependency on BAS agents to assist employers to meet their obligations. However, BAS agents do not have SG access in Online services for agents. It is important for BAS agents to have visibility of the charge statements.

Action item


Due date

June 2023



Action item details

The ATO to explore opportunity to include BAS agent SG access in STP/SG project.

Credit offsetting to debts 'on hold'

The ATO addressed the group, advising:

  • Where an agent is representing a client with a non-pursued debt, and it is likely they will have future credits offset, we will send them a list of clients, including their non-pursued debt balance by account type.
  • You can find if any, and how much, of your client’s debt is 'on hold' through online services. The instructions for doing this is included at Debts on Hold.
  • The debt 'on hold' is only re-raised up to the amount of the available credit. You can view this on the statement of account as a 're-raise of non-pursuit', where the whole debt was offset, or 'partial re-raise of non-pursuit', where there is a remaining balance 'on hold'.
  • When a debt 'on hold' is re-raised, we impose and remit general interest charge for the period between the non-pursuit date and the re-raise date.
  • If your client is facing severe financial hardship, and a future credit is expected, please reach out to discuss the available options. Once the credit has been offset there are very limited opportunities within the law for this to be reversed.
  • An extensive communication program to inform agents and clients will be undertaken.
Member comments
  • Impacts of COVID-19 are still being felt. We need to be mindful of potential to significantly impacted businesses who are getting back on their feet.
  • There might be agents who are surprised as they have not been able to see and are not aware of previous debts.
  • BAS agents manage cashflow overall, including IT debts, but cannot see the IT account.

Action item


Due date

June 2023



Action item details

The ATO to confirm if the initial email to be sent to agents can be disclosed to clients.

Strategic Goal 4 – Increase trust and confidence in the tax, super and registry systems

Lodgment program review

The ATO summarised the progress of the lodgment program review including:

  • The review is nearing completion. We are well placed to address the most significant issues raised and now have a much better understanding of the pressures facing agents (which provides context for implementation of future measures and projects).
  • Most of the dates identified as pressure points were unable to be moved without creating equal or worse impacts on whole-of-system outcomes. In most cases, shifting the date would add pressure to another period where agents are already under pressure.
  • A range of short and long-term options were identified which can reduce the pressure for many of the dates identified.
  • The working group was deliberately set up as a limited scope review that would produce recommendations for further consideration, rather than an ongoing program of work to implement recommendations. Further exploratory and implementation activity will occur following the completion of the review and will need to have regard to other ATO priorities.
  • To maintain momentum, the Tax Practitioner Stewardship Group will monitor the work arising from the review through periodic updates, twice per year.

Lodgment deferrals in Online services for agents

The ATO advised members the new deferral feature in Online service for agents addresses one of the most significant issues raised during the lodgment program review, deferral requests. Key dates:

  • live private beta function and load testing until 31 March 2023
  • widely available to the profession by end of April 2023.

Environmental scan

Co-chair Kerrie Jarius sought input from members including member experiences, trends and items impacting the profession. Items discussed included:

  • ATO non-resident ABN registrations
  • ATO clearing house experience – cannot process multiple payments at once
  • STP – issues with authorisation process
  • debt management and payment plans
  • the secretariat captured these items to help inform future agenda topics.

Other business

The ATO advised the members of STP and activity statements project changes. The project plans to:

  • communicate the coming changes to employers via an article in the April small business newsletter
  • take the drafted employer guidance to the Communications Content Working Group for review in April – May.

Strategic Goal 6 – Improve small business performance and the level playing field

Improving small business tax performance

Assistant Commissioner Andrew Watson and Senior Director Kelly Norwood provided an update including:

  • In early 2023, we consulted with bookkeepers and BAS agents to better understand their current role. The consultations provided key insights from bookkeepers and BAS agents who demonstrate common characteristics that we see support improved tax performance, including:
    • Integrated digital systems – encourage and guide clients to use digital integrated tools, reducing the time and work required to meet their obligations.
    • Education – provide clients with support to understand the foundations of business, digital software, and correct reporting.
    • Right time reporting and payment – clients that report both monthly and quarterly to manage cash flow issues and make on time payments.
    • Data assurance – provide assurance in data by doing a ‘question and answer’ on the activity statement before lodging.
    • Future proofing – confidence about the role of bookkeepers and BAS agents in the future.
  • The consultations continue to affirm the trusted relationship that registered BAS agents have with their small business clients.
  • Insights from tax and BAS agents indicates future opportunities in further expanding their roles in education, consulting, and business support.
  • There could be an opportunity to explore different ‘right time’ reporting across different taxes.
Member comments
  • Current challenges in managing small business cashflow.
  • Existing debt could be quarantined or managed in a different account so quarterly payments could continue without getting absorbed into the debt for the ATO to consider.
  • It would be appropriate to pilot some of the ideas to support broader rollout.
  • The committee has a significant interest in this work and would like regular updates.