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Tax Time 2023 update – 29 August

Key messages and themes from the Tax Practitioner Stewardship Group (TPSG) Tax Time meeting, held on 29 August 2023.

Last updated 6 September 2023


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

TPSG external member apologies:

  • Ani Tuna, BlueRock Accounting
  • Brian Greenacre, BDO Australia
  • Debra Anderson, Anderson Tax & Accounting
  • Michael Croker, Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand
  • Neville Birthisel, Institute of Financial Professionals Australia
  • Peter Thorp, Australian Bookkeepers Association
  • Phil McCann, McCann Financial Group
  • Steve Inglis, Findex.

Welcome / action items

Members were welcomed and thanked for coming together to provide valuable insights and information for Tax Time 2023.

No action items to review.

ATO updates

Updates were provided from:

  • ATO Systems and Digital services
    • no system issues were reported and tax time is progressing well
    • the deployment of excise functionality in Online services for agents on the weekend of August 26 and 27 was successful.
  • Service Delivery
    • individual lodgments received were slightly reduced from last year, whilst acknowledging the system upgrade for agents may have prevented more lodgments from being received
    • total lodgments received were slightly down from corresponding time last year
    • noted that 53% of returns lodged were self-preparers, 45% from tax agents and 2% ATO initiated
    • 1.4 million phone calls had been answered regarding tax time enquiries.
  • Marketing and Communication, tax time focus for this fortnight through our communications and media activities includes
    • the small business tax time toolkit – which has tips and tricks to help your sole trader and small business clients get it right at tax time, what to do if you are having trouble accessing our online services, and information about the Corporate tax transparency data check
    • a series of new videos have been released highlighting the shadow economy. Assistant Commissioner Tony Goding discusses the importance of ensuring that everyone pays their fair share of tax and how we are exploring better ways to use new and existing sources of data to target those who are deliberately operating in the shadow economy
    • the importance of making your client’s alert to ATO impersonation scams that use ATO branded SMS or emails that link to a fake myGov sign-in page. This is designed to steal the username and password
    • topics at our next open forum, which will take place on Tuesday 14 September, will include on-time lodgment performance, client-agent linking, rental properties and lodge and pay
    • the Tax professionals newsletter includes articles on Australian residents declaring foreign and worldwide income, what to do if the R&D tax incentive is being claimed, the capital gains tax obligations if crypto assets are donated/received as a gift or donation, an update on offsetting refunds to debts on hold, making sure your clients are only claiming the tax free threshold on one job if they are working in multiple jobs and the sentencing outcome for Operation Elbrus
    • we also communicated a wide range of topics through social media on topics including rental properties and depreciating assets, the benefits of using the ATO app for record keeping, claiming deductions when travelling to and from work, and PAYG instalments
    • to assist not-for-profits prepare for their first self-review return, we have published new web guidance about the reporting requirements to self-assess income tax exemption
    • recently published videos from the tax professionals digital education series include View payment options and make a payment and View client communication history.
  • Small Business
    • acknowledged the weekend systems maintenance could have impacted TPAR lodgments and members were advised that no penalties would be imposed for lodgments received by 31 August 2023.
  • Superannuation and Employer Obligations
    • members were advised Treasury Payday super consultation paper will be issuing in September.

Member discussed

A member advised that some guidance for agents on how to address prefill data discrepancies would be helpful, noting there are different ways for agents to address this currently and highlighting the pre- and post-assessment impacts.

A member queried whether it was intended that some calls be terminated after directing a caller to a self-help option. The member is to provide the secretariat with further information for the issue to be investigated.

A member queried whether calls may be blocked at times. We advised that from time to time the number of calls received may cause wait times to increase. We advised that while we prioritise agent calls, there may be occasions where we stop new calls entering the queue rather than have agents waiting for a long time. It is a measure of last resort and usually only operates for a short period. Once the wait time is within acceptable limits, we allow calls to enter the queue again.

Despite our communications about the weekend maintenance window, some agents still didn’t realise it was happening.

Member issues and insights

The matter relating to incorrect prefill of property related data has been investigated. An issue with third-party data was identified, the supplier (source) contacted and advised. The data is to be corrected as a matter of priority by the third party.

No new issues or insights were reported by members.

As no other business was raised, members considered and confirmed the 29 August meeting as the final TPSG Tax time meeting in this series. An out of session meeting will be convened, if required.

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