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28 Jun 13 ATO Tax Practitioner Forum – Weekly Tax Time 2013 Key Messages

On Wednesday 3 July 2013, Tax Counsel Stephanie Caredes CTA attended the weekly Tax Time 2013 update with the  members of the ATO Tax Practitioner Forum (ATPF). Subsequent to this meeting, the ATO has issued the following key messages:

Ensure private health insurance details are completed correctly
When completing the new Private health insurance policy details labels on your clients’ Individual tax return 2013, use the details shown on their Private health insurance statement.

Enter only the dollar amounts shown on your client’s Private health insurance statement (not percentage amounts) at the following labels:

•    Your share of premiums paid in the financial year

•    Your share of Australian Government rebate received.

Entering incorrect information may result in an incorrect calculation of private health insurance rebate liability and cause subsequent unnecessary amendments.

For more information about the Private health insurance policy details labels, refer to Changes to private health insurance - Completing your tax return.

Building and construction taxable payment reporting

*Lodging your Taxable payments annual report
Businesses can lodge their Taxable payments annual report by one of the following methods:
–    online using the Business Portal or Tax Agent Portal (for tax agents only) or Standard Business Reporting (SBR)
–    on electronic storage media that you mail to us
–    by completing the paper form, Taxable payments annual report (NAT 74109), and mailing it to us.

*To lodge online or on electronic storage media
Businesses must have accounting software that can generate the taxable payments annual report.  Many commercial software packages have been updated to provide this functionality.  To find out if the software used by a business has been updated, contact the software developer or check our product register.

*How to order the paper form
If businesses want to lodge a paper form, they must complete and send the Taxable payments annual report  (NAT 74109).  They must use the ATO printed form. The form can be obtained by either:
–    ordering from our online publications ordering service
–    phoning our Publications Distribution Service on 1300 720 092.

Photocopies or copies printed from our website cannot be used to lodge the annual report.

More information about lodging the taxable payments annual report and how to access the product register is available on our website at www.ato.gov.au/taxablepaymentsreporting

New ato.gov.au – intermittent issues
The ATO has recently launched a new look website and is currently working through some technical issues which have arisen. 

Once we have resolved these intermittent issues we are confident the new look website will help you.

The new website design focuses on:
•   giving you the information you need
•   the key tasks and actions you need to take – to meet your tax and super obligations
•   helping you find what you are looking for.

In the last 24 hours the website has received over 220,000 visits.

Useful links
•   Overview of Key Changes
•   Changes to forms
•   How to complete labels 64A income of the trust estate and 65W share of income of the trust estate

Processing
•   We will commence full processing of 2013 returns on Thursday 4 July 2013.
•   Refunds for 2013 year returns will start being received from Friday 12 July 2013.

Portal
If professional associations members are seeing any Portal instability, you can report the issues to us by:
•   phoning 13 72 86 Fast Key Code 3 3 between 8.00am and 6.00pm, Monday to Friday.
•   email palu@ato.gov.au, this is a limited service available until 31 July 2013, then agents are encouraged to use usual channels.

Tax agent tips

*Help stamp out identity crime and refund fraud
Tax Time 2012 saw increasing numbers of registered tax agents being targeted by organised groups to lodge fraudulent income tax returns using identities that have been stolen, borrowed or bought.

We found that sometimes these returns were lodged by registered agents without checking the identity of clients or questioning information provided by clients, especially if unusually high tax instalments or deductions were claimed.

To reduce the risk of lodging fraudulent returns, we recommend you put in place procedures to check the identity of:
•   all new clients prior to accepting them as clients
•   existing clients, in particular when personal information is altered and/or information relating to their tax affairs is inconsistent with information that you already hold (and has previously been verified) about their tax affairs
•   all representatives of clients (whether they represent new or existing clients).

We recommend checking both original documents and a range of other information against your existing records and our systems. These details can include TFN, full name, date of birth, residential address, phone number and employment details (including the employer’s address and phone number).

If you suspect a stolen or false identity is being used, you should decline to act for that person. If you suspect any discrepancies they must be followed up to rule out possible identity crime, you should also report the incident to us by either:
•   make an online report on the Tax evasion reporting form
•   phoning us on 1800 060 062 or 13 72 86 Fast Key Code 3 4 between 8.00am and 6.00pm, Monday to Friday.

*Maintain security in your practice to stop fraud

Taxpayer information must be kept safe at all times. Attention to proper security procedures, especially during busy periods, will help stop potential fraud.

The following tips will help protect your clients' information:
•   avoid sharing passwords and login details
•   change passwords and remove user access when a staff member leaves
•   lock computer screens when leaving desks
•   secure tax records when they aren't in use
•   avoid circulating tax file numbers in emails unless it's absolutely necessary
•   ensure your computers have up-to-date security software, including anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-spam and firewall protection.

The ATO have a range of practical suggestions to help reduce the potential for you or your staff being unknowing accomplices to identity crime and refund fraud. For more information, refer to Reduce the risk of refund fraud in your practice.
 
*How to report a scam
If you have received fraudulent communication or are unsure of the legitimacy of a communication you have received which claims to be from the ATO, let us know.

You can report unsolicited emails claiming to be from the ATO by forwarding the entire email to ReportEmailFraud@ato.gov.au. In order for us to act promptly to your email, we do not respond individually to any emails sent to this address. This email address is to be used only for the reporting of unsolicited emails. Contact us by phone for all other enquires.

You can also check on any communication that you aren’t sure about by phoning us from 8.00am-6.00pm, Monday to Friday on:

•   Individuals 13 28 61
•   Businesses 13 28 66
•   Tax Professionals 13 72 86

Members who require further information should contact us at taxpolicy@taxinstitute.com.au.