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As mentioned in last week's TAXVINE, Tax Counsel Tamera Cockerill ATIA represented the Taxation Institute at the ATPF meeting on Friday, 6 August 2010. The ATO gave a comprehensive update on their processing of 2010 income tax returns. Last week, the ATO received a high volume of returns, yet by the end of the week managed to finalise 800,000 assessments. The ATO has acknowledged that the flow of assessments/refunds has not been very consistent, but they are taking measures to smooth the fluctuations. In response to our concern that some eTax returns appeared to be processed faster than ELS returns, the ATO said that there was no differentiation in the processing and it may be reflective of the fact that eTax lodgments are usually simpler returns.

The ATO has not changed their service standards, and they continue to aim to process 94% of indivduals' electronic returns within 14 days. The Taxation Institute and other professional bodies have informed the ATO that this statistic does not appear to be the experience of many of our members. The ATO have advised that they are not experiencing any problems - rather, they have upgraded their technology to detect over-stated or fraudulent claims, and this has resulted in returns taking 2 days longer to process. They still aim to meet the 14 day target for electronic lodgments, but noted that this is not a guarantee. If you are experiencing difficulties with receiving assessments and/or refunds for your clients and are happy to provide us with specific details, please let us know via:

The ATO responded to members' concerns that the effective or issue date on the Portal appears to change. The ATO advises that the effective date is not necessarily the date that an agent can expect a transaction to be processed. Rather, it is a point in time estimate of the processing time, and it may change as the return works through the system.

An update was given on the availability of pre-filling reports. It is expected that approximately 85% of payment summary data and 65% of interest/dividend data should be available by Tuesday, 31 August 2010. The ATO interest data is not yet available and they are continuing to work on a system fix to resolve this issue.

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