On 27 February 2015, Tax Counsel Thilini Wickramasuriya FTI attended the main meeting of the ATO Tax Practitioner Advisory Group. Topics discussed included:
- Release of the ATO’s online replacement to the Compliance in Focus and Compliance Program publications on Monday of this week.
- Recent improvements to ato.gov.au including to search, navigation and content.
- Potential for tailored business tax returns in coming years.
- Encouraging clients of tax agents to register on MyGov.
- How to deal with tax agents who are falling behind on their own tax returns.
- Update on issue raised by The Tax Institute on verification of GST refunds.
- The Tax Institute raised ongoing issues regarding the tone and content of ATO correspondence on compliance action.\
The ATO’s key messages from the meeting are below:
Lodgement strategy for tax and BAS agents
Tax Practitioners have the same obligations to lodge their personal income tax returns on time as with any other taxpayer.
Most registered tax and business activity statement agents (tax practitioners) exercise a high standard in lodging their own personal returns on time, but about 17% lodge late. In severe cases the returns can become very overdue.
At the end of January, there were about 900 tax practitioners that had at least two personal income tax returns overdue. These practitioners have been contacted by the ATO about their overdue lodgments. From March 2015 the ATO will move into the final stage of reminders before commencing prosecution action.
For those in the 900 who have not brought their lodgment up to date, the ATO will send final reminder letters, make follow up phone calls, and if necessary, send a final notice stating intent to prosecute. If after 42 days the ATO has not received the outstanding returns, prosecution action will commence. The ATO will advise the Tax Practitioners Board if it is commencing prosecution action for any tax practitioner. The ATO also advises the Tax Practitioners Board, each quarter, about any tax practitioners who have overdue personal lodgment obligations.
Practitioners are strongly encouraged to bring their own affairs up to date.
Tax agents can lodge their own returns via the Tax Agent Portal and keep their personal information private. Using Access Manager and defining your own records as 'restricted' the Administrator AUSkey holder can nominate who can access that information.
For more information
Access Manager – Permissions
Access Manager – Restricting clients
To increase willing and correct participation in the tax and super systems we need the community’s confidence and trust in our administration. To do this, we aim to make it as easy as possible for people who do the right thing and focus our active compliance activities on those who do not.
We have developed a new product as part of our commitment to being transparent in our approach to our compliance activities. Building confidence is now available on ato.gov.au and provides the community with a central location to access information on the risks we are seeing, the activities we are undertaking and the results we are getting.
This complements the higher level priorities and activities outlined in the ATO corporate plan 2014-18 and replaces the previous Compliance program and Compliance in focus annual publications.
Building confidence will be updated throughout the year to provide an up to date snapshot of risks, activities and results for different parts of the community. It aims to increase transparency and provide the community with information that can help them to make choices to correctly participate in their tax and super systems and the consequences of incorrect participation.
The ATO website was updated on 2 March 2015.
myGov limited life working group
The first meeting of the myGov Limited Life Working Group was held via teleconference on 26 February 2015.
Participants discussed the current appetite amongst the community and tax practitioners for accessing Government services via myGov. Participants discussed the benefits of making clients aware of multiple superannuation accounts and possible consolidations.
Participants said they would like to see ‘notifications’ to identify clients with multiple superannuation accounts. Ideas included:
a report they could download from the Tax Agent Portal
- a flag in the pre-fill report
- adding an indicator to agent’s client list information.
They would need to also see the insurance indicator, and there was a brief discussion about the need for tax practitioners to ensure they were not stepping into the financial advice arena unless qualified to do so.
Participants also made plans to work together on developing a letter and web content which can be used to assist taxpayers, who are eligible to use myTax as a lodgment channel, decide if this service is right for them. The letter will let them know about myTax but will also describe the important role played by tax agents in the tax and super systems.
Members seeking further information on the above should contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.