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20 Aug 10 ATO Briefing Tax Time 2010

Tax Counsel Angie Ananda FTIA attended the ATO Briefing for Tax Time 2010 on Thursday, 19 August 2010

The ATO also noted that its 2010-11 compliance program will focus on:
  • The use of exempt vehicles to determine if usage has resulted in a fringe benefit.
  • Tax agents who do not have an FBT role, especially where clients who previously lodged FBT returns stop doing so when they engage the services of such tax agents.
  • Living away from home allowances especially in relation to working holiday travellers or visitors.
Recently some members have been contacting us with complaints regarding the processing times for income tax returns under Tax Time 2010. We have relayed all these complaints to the ATO. In response, the ATO has provided us the following statistics in relation to processing and service times.  

Based on the statistics we have been given, it appears to us that the system may be processing returns at a slightly slower rate than in previous years. However, based on the statistics we have been given this does not appear to be an issue that is affecting a large percentage of the tax agent population. That said, we understand that these statistics will be of little comfort to agents that fall into the affected category.  Therefore, we offer these agents the option of contacting us directly at Tax Policy If agents are prepared to provide specific details of the returns they are having difficulty with, we would be happy to follow this up directly with the ATO on their behalf.

The statistics provided by the ATO as at 15 August 2010 are as follows:

  • 3.7 million 2010 individual income tax returns have been lodged;
  • 3.1 million Notices of Assessment have issued;
  • Of the balance (ie 600,000) approximately 200,000 are being held for review, 270,000 are undergoing processing and verification checks and 150,000 are awaiting finalisation to issue;
  • The ATO is receiving approximately 100,000 returns each day;
  • 77% of finalised 2010 income tax returns were completed within 14 days;
  • More than 99% of finalised 2010 income tax returns were completed within 30 days; and
  • Refunds to the value of approximately $2 billion were paid between 16 and 18 August 2010. 
The ATO have also advised:

  • The use of their risk, potential overpayment and potential fraud models has resulted in a number of returns being held back for further examination and this includes forms lodged by tax agents.
  • The previously advised delay impacting some 88,000 returns with Eligible Termination Payment's (ETP's) has been resolved and they were released over last weekend, although they are now holding approximately 1800 returns containing ETPs which still need to be reviewed for other reasons.
  • The ATO is processing HELP and SFSS returns but a small number of amended returns (less than 2,000) are still being held.  It is anticipated that this issue to be resolved by end of August.
  • There appears to be an issue in relation to accessing Payment slips for companies and superannuation funds - the ATO is working to rectify the issue but advise that payment slips can be printed from the Portal.
  • Companies newly registered in 2010 have an incorrect due date set. The correct due date is 15 May 2010 and we are working to rectify this issue.
  • When using the Portal for clients with two or more income tax accounts, agents are receiving a message that implies the Portal has failed. The ATO is working to rectify access to the accounts by the end of August. The ATO have advised that if urgent access to accounts is necessary ring 13 72 86.
  • When using the Portal for refund requests agents are receiving 'no financial information details provided'.  The ATO is working to have the correct system message display.
  • Some client updates have not yet been processed. The ATO is working on this issue and advises that if an urgent update is necessary ring 13 72 86.
In relation to pre-filling the ATO have provided the following update:

  • Dividend transactions - by early in the week of 23 August 2010 93% of last years financial transactions will be available with 16 million transactions accessible; and
  • Bank Interest - by Monday 23 August 18.8 million transactions would have been loaded.

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