3. Electronic Service Delivery

ATO submission

Electronic Service Delivery

The purpose of this agenda item is to outline the ATO’s approach to establishing clearer guidance to the community, including tax practitioners on the use of ATO online systems


View/suggested treatment:
For members information

Technical references:

Impact on clients:

Priority of issue:

Has this issue been discussed at any other ato consultative forum?
ATO online systems have been discussed at the following forums:

  • ATO Tax Practitioner Advisory Group (ATPAG)
  • BAS Agent Association Group (BASAAG)
  • Lodgment Working Group (LWG)
  • National Tax Liaison Group (NTLG)
  • Accounting Working Group (AWG)
  • ELS Forum

Presentation information:
Assistant Commissioners Cameron Sorensen, John Becker and Will Day will provide a presentation on the day of the meeting.

Meeting Discussion

Identity theft and online fraud is increasing and it is important for tax practitioners to remain vigilant to identity crime which can lead to concerns not only in the tax system, but for the broader financial community as well.

Together with the ATO, tax practitioners, who are in a trusted position of responsibility to take care of the security of ATO online systems, have a mutual obligation to develop and adopt practices designed to mitigate risks associated with having access to ATO information and online services.

Given the mutual obligation between ATO and tax practitioners to ensure that confidence, certainty and security in ATO systems is maintained, terms and conditions applying to the access and use of ATO online services are to be revised and developed in consultation with tax practitioners and their associations. The Department of Communications has a website dedicated to online safety containing a range of information about protecting yourself from cyber attacks and protecting your information. The ATO is to shortly roll out a program “Support and Assistance Business” with a focus on online security. This messaging is to be built into the induction kit for new agents.

An “Expectations Statement” has been prepared and was tabled at the meeting. Members were asked to provide any comment back through the secretariat.

Taxpayer information must be kept safe at all times. Attention to proper security procedures, especially during busy periods, will help mitigate the risk of identity crime and potential fraud.

The following tips will help protect your clients' information:

  • Undertake proof of identity checks for new clients
  • Perform regular reviews of your AUSkey credentials
  • avoid sharing passwords and login details
  • change passwords and remove user access when a staff member leaves
  • lock computer screens when leaving desks
  • secure tax records when they aren't in use
  • avoid circulating tax file numbers in emails unless it's absolutely necessary
  • ensure your computers have up-to-date security software, including anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-spam and firewall protection.

The ATO has a range of practical suggestions to help reduce the potential for you or your staff being unknowing accomplices to identity crime and refund fraud. For more information, refer to Reduce the risk of refund fraud in your practice and Proof of Identity Checks. For further information on what is identity crime and how you or your clients can protect themselves, refer to Identity theft and your TFN at ato.gov.au

The Tax Practitioners Board has released a draft explanatory paper 0531 TPB(I) D17/2013 Code of Professional Conduct - Reasonable care to ascertain client affairsExternal Link which deals with practical ways in which to handle issues and risks that may arise with your practice.

The Serious Non-Compliance area within the ATO takes the lead in protecting the community against tax crime by dealing with people who deliberately and dishonestly abuse the tax and superannuation systems to obtain a financial benefit. The ATO uses various strategies that aim to make the Australian tax and superannuation systems unattractive targets for serious and organised tax crime, including:

  • taking action on tax cheats
  • working with our partners – Australian Government and law enforcement agencies, industry and internal tax jurisdictions
  • education and assistance
  • strengthening our systems
  • promoting reform.

We need to work together to protect the community against tax crime and ask you to:

  • stay alert to misconduct in others
  • exercise due diligence and let us know when you suspect serious misconduct
  • work with us when we have to investigate allegations of misconduct by your fellow tax agents, or clients.

Forward Agenda:

This topic is to remain on the Forward Agenda.

    Last modified: 06 Feb 2015QC 39578