• 1. Meeting open

    The meeting commenced at 1.00pm (AEST).

    Members and guests were welcomed and apologies noted.

    Minutes from the 15 December 2014 meeting were confirmed by attendees.

    2. Update on key issues and resolutions

    2.1 On-time lodgment program performance letters

    Meeting discussion

    The re-designed on-time lodgment program annual performance letters were tabled for final review and endorsement by attendees. The re-designed letters focus on encouraging continued improvement, specific links to information about when treatments will apply and shows a comparison to practice’s own performance. In addition, it was agreed to include a section which advises how the on-time performance was calculated.

    Attendees discussed whether to continue providing interim performance letters, which is scheduled for release in mid-April. There was consensus that it would be replaced with communications informing practitioners of the removal of the interim performance, along with information about available self-help tools for agents to monitor their lodgment performance.

    Reference

    LWG 1902/01

    Agenda Topic

    On-time lodgment program performance letters

    Action item

    The ATO to undertake communications informing practitioners of the removal of the interim performance letters and provide tips on how to self-monitor lodgment performance.

    Responsibility

    Vlad Dugandzic

    2.2 Managing clients with multiple prior years outstanding

    Meeting discussion

    The initiative to further assist agents by allowing deferrals for the current year income tax return, to manage new or returning clients with multiple prior year returns outstanding has been available since October 2014.

    The new lodgment deferrals ‘smart’ form includes a check box for tax agents to select that are they taking up the initiative. As at 10 February 2015, 98 requests have been received, with 121 current year income tax returns deferred.

    In summary:

    • 83% of requests used specific ‘check box’.
    • 77.5% of all requests approved in part or in full.
    • Most agents are using the initiative as intended, although some agents haven’t fully grasped the intent of the initiative which is to defer the current year only.
    • Some agents still not using the correct form/format.

    It was decided that additional communications to agents on the availability of the new deferral and the parameters is necessary ensuring that it is clear and concise.

    The Chair noted that there are practitioner concerns that further support and flexibility is required from the ATO for the prior year returns outstanding. This is especially the case where the ATO contacts practitioners for clients with outstanding obligations and practitioners are seeking further time to bring the obligations up to date. The viability of broadening the current initiative to include a suspension of further ATO compliance activities on the prior year returns will be investigated.

    It was noted that a suspension of further ATO lodgment compliance activities does not prevent the imposition of penalties or interest charges being applied to overdue returns.

    Reference

    LWG 1902/02

    Agenda Topic

    Managing clients with multiple prior year returns outstanding

    Action item

    The ATO to investigate the viability of enabling practitioners to seek a suspension of further ATO compliance activities on clients with outstanding prior year returns.

    Responsibility

    Colin Walker

    2.3 Lodgment deferrals smart form

    Meeting discussion

    The new lodgment deferrals ‘smart form’ was deployed on 27 November 2014. The intent of the new form is to simplify and streamline the process for agents to make deferral requests and to reduce the number of administrative errors associated with these requests. Practitioners have noted that the form is ‘slow’ to open and the ATO is currently working with the form designers to resolve the issue.

    It is too early to provide meaningful analysis on the effectiveness of the new form as the peak deferral processing period commences in mid-April. An evaluation of the effectiveness of the new form will be tabled at a future meeting.

    Reference

    LWG 1902/03

    Agenda Topic

    Lodgment deferrals smart form

    Action item

    Undertake evaluation of the smart form after 30 June.

    Responsibility

    Vlad Dugandzic

    2.4 Lodgment program survey

    Meeting discussion

    The lodgment program survey was conducted by ATO research professionals using PeoplePulse. The survey was released on 27 January 2015 with a reminder sent on 3 February and closed on Tuesday 10 February 2015.

    Analysis is currently being conducted and the final report is due mid-March 2015.

    The purpose of the survey was to gain an understanding of agent perceptions of the lodgment program, its intent and to identify irritants and guide potential future improvements.

    The sample size was highly reliable with 549 fully completed surveys. A telephone conference will be convened for members to discuss findings of the survey.

    Reference

    LWG 1902/04

    Agenda Topic

    Lodgment program survey

    Action item

    A telephone conference will be convened to discuss the survey results.

    Responsibility

    LWG Secretariat

      Last modified: 26 Nov 2015QC 47406