Co-chairs Melanie Casey and Mike Behling welcomed the group to the May 2023 meeting, with Mike adding he hopes members enjoy a professional meeting with good discussion.
Strategic Goal 1 – Protect the high levels of engagement and integrity in the tax, super and registry systems
Optimising disputes – services for tax practitioners
ATO presented the early thinking and concepts of the Optimising Disputes project at the ATO’s Services for Tax Practitioners digital service provider event in Canberra, November 2022. As the item generated interest at that event, although the project is currently on hold, the ATO wanted to engage with Tax Profession Digital Implementation Group (TPDIG) members early to gauge:
- member feedback and interest on the concepts presented, such as digital substantiation for objections, as well as processing out of time amendments via myTax and third-party software, as well as understanding what upgrades are important to better improve the overall experience for end users
- interest in nominating for a working group when the project resumes.
The ATO advised the aim of the project is to provide more intuitive forms, which will ultimately provide more timely outcomes and an overall better user experience. The working group will be helpful to work through issues and concerns as well as form functionality.
- A member queried if the ATO will be looking for digital service providers (DSPs) to include this as a feature in their programs?
The ATO acknowledged there will need to be clarity about what is required of DSPs and commercial viability will be a consideration. Further engagement will occur as the project progresses and service levels and functions are scoped.
- A member asked what is in place and available for incorrect and improper use of this function and what steps can be taken to ensure this is not another easy pathway for fraud.
The ATO advised there is an awareness of the security requirement, and we will ensure this will be a component of the design.
- A member advised that authorisation levels will need to be considered
- A member informed that the project’s scope is not quite clear and requires better articulation as there are layers to this type of project undertaking.
The ATO took the feedback on notice.
Strategic Goal 2 – Safeguard the security of the tax, super and registry data and IT systems
Client Agent Linking
ATO provided an update on the progress of the client agent linking project.
Topics discussed include:
- overview of small business consultation and user testing
- current options for further deployment to business
- how we will engage going forward and the role of a special purpose working group.
- Members raised particular scenarios on how they or their clients would need support.
The ATO advised we are still working on how to support clients and agents. Particular scenarios and support options will be discussed further in the working group.
Strategic Goal 4 – Increase trust and confidence in the tax, super and registry systems
ATO provided an update on the membership refresh, which will begin from Friday 30 June 2023.
Members formally endorsed the new TPDIG charter conditionally. A further inclusion to the charter in relation to confidentiality will be made later and will be informed by changes made to the TPSG charter.
Lodgment deferral in Online services for agents
ATO provided an update regarding the implementation of the recently launched lodgment deferral function, which went live on 21 April 2023 following a 3-week private beta period.
ATO advised members of targets archived:
- approximately 500,000 tax file numbers have been processed, 78% of these have met our low-risk guidelines and been approved within 48 hours
- approximately 6,200 agents have used the new function
- feedback has been positive in respect to efficacy and ease of use.
Focus of communication is to shift to preparing agent for the decommission the legacy lodgment deferral process; the date for the decommissioning will be determined in collaboration with the industry via Stewardship groups.
- Members noted that they are enjoying the new experience, especially the quicker turnaround times; however, when manual review feedback is provided information cannot be provided back via the same platform.
- Member suggested enhancement of feature to enable agents to search client name in deferral history, enhance bulk search functionality, request supported assistance as well as pre-population of client information.
- A member noted there is still a requirement to input some client information as well as the lack of options to give different reasons for different clients.
- Member informed that agents are still using the spreadsheet due to unawareness.
The ATO took all feedback on notice.
Co-chair Mike Behling sought input from members, asking to highlight and discuss what is being experienced, trends and items that are currently impacting the tax profession from the digital perspective.
Items discussed included:
- DSP industry is suffering post COVID-19 – companies are going through restructures, working with fewer staff.
- DSPs currently have a reduced capacity to build discretionary digital services. Focus is on ‘must do’ items.
- Tax practitioners struggling to recruit qualified staff and as a result are stressed and overworked.
- BAS agents require access to Superannuation Guarantee accounts in online services for agents.
- Tax time stationery and legislation not yet passed; ATO will advise out of session if there are unexpected delays.
- The Digital environment needs to be strengthened to protect against fraud.
The secretariat captured these items to help inform future agenda discussions.
Members were offered the opportunity to raise other business, with the following items being raised:
- ATO systems are preventing refunds from being issued, they should delay the refund post release of the locked account.
- Locked down accounts to be reopened can be a huge impost, can they be locked for a specific amount of time rather than locked forever?
The ATO advised this is a well-known issue, however it is not tenable to unlock the accounts due to data breaches. Future enhancements to the digital identity framework will help to improve the experience for individuals who have had personal information stolen via third party data breaches.
20230530_01 – Tax time communication plan
Members discussed proposed changes that will be effective once legislated. ATO to provide an update on the contingency plan should the legislation not be passed to members out of session.
20230530_02 – BAS Agent access to Superannuation Guarantee accounts
ATO co-chair has begun investigations.
20230530_03 – Correspondence distributed to clients from the ATO not visible to Tax practitioners
Emailed member requesting for examples – nothing provided at this stage.Key messages from the Tax Profession Digital Implementation Group meeting 30 May 2023.