On Wednesday 10 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:
- Tax Time 2013 is proceeding very well.
- Full processing of 2013 returns commenced on Thursday 4 July 2013.
- Refunds for 2013 year returns will start being received from Friday 12 July 2013.
- The ATO has received approximately 262,000 returns and has finalised approximately 232,000 returns.
- The ATO would like to thank the professional associations for circulating an alert through their professional association newsletters on the information required for the private health insurance labels.
Telephony service standard performance to date
From 17 June 2013 to 9 July 2013 (incl), we received 586,887 calls and achieved service commitments of:
- Tax practitioner calls - 88.8% of calls answered within 2 minutes;
- General taxpayer calls - 82.7% of calls answered within 5 minutes.
During this period, the average wait time was 42 seconds for Tax practitioners and 134 seconds for general taxpayers.
Overall our call volumes are tracking well and we are meeting our service standards.
Weekly updates on performance standards are published on our website.
Provision of bank account details on tax returns
Agents are reminded that bank account information has to be included to lodge individual income tax returns, through ELS.
Any valid Australian bank account with a BSB, account number and name is accepted. In fact, many agents are currently using their trust account details as a way of managing their clients’ refunds.
Tax Agents can draw down a list of refunds that have been deposited into their trust accounts to assist with reconciliations. This is called the EFT reconciliation statement. Tax Agents can request the report, using the ‘request report form’ in their ELS software.
We will not automatically debit your client’s bank account if the assessment results in an amount owing to the Commissioner. Our existing debt collection practices, which may in rare cases ultimately result in the utilisation of garnishee powers, will continue to apply with due process.
New ato.gov.au – update
We have made progress to resolve the main issues experienced with the launch of the new ato.gov.au website, including:
- Performance issues;
- Error messages when downloading PDF files;
- Ensuring content is consistent for all users.
The site is now stable and we are continuing to fix the few remaining issues as a priority; with our key focus being errors with the search functionality.
We appreciate your patience as we work to get the site fully operational.
Tax agent tips
Income Tax Return Integrity
Tip: The ATO has sophisticated tools to identify fraudulent returns. The ATO is grateful to all tax agents for alerting the ATO of potential fraudulent activity.
Watch out for fraudulent payment summaries
Tip: To avoid unknowingly lodging fraudulent income tax returns you should:
- take reasonable care to verify the identity of new clients, for example by sighting photo identification;
- not lodge suspect income tax returns;
- phone the Tax Evasion hotline on 13 72 86 Fast Key Code 34 to report suspect behaviour.
Identity Theft - Protecting tax file numbers
Your client's tax file number (TFN) is used to identify them in their dealings with the ATO and will usually stay the same for life. It is an important part of your client's identity and should be kept safe.
Inform your clients to never quote or give out their TFN unless there is a good reason, such as completing a tax form or opening a bank account.
Only certain people are entitled to ask someone for their TFN, including the ATO, Centrelink, superannuation funds, banks or financial institutions, and employers (but only after your client has started working for them).
TFNs should never be used to establish or confirm identity with other organisations.
Tip: Tax Agents should maintain their vigilance when checking a client’s identity. It is important when a client books an appointment with you, remind them to bring their identification, including their bank account or financial institution details.
Members who require further information should contact us at Tax Policy.