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23 Aug 13 ATO Tax Practitioner Forum – Weekly Tax Time 2013 Key Messages

On Wednesday 21 August 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 still proceeding very well.
  • The ATO has received approximately 4,686,000 returns (for all years) and has finalised approximately 3,985,000 returns (for all years).

Processing performance compared with Tax Time 2012 (current year returns)

Returns received Returns Finalised Number of refunds issued Vale of refunds issued
To 19 August 2013 4,250,000 3,452,000 3,090,000 $7.84 (bil)
To 19 August 2013 4,394,000 3,435,000 3,084,000 $6.71 (bil)







Telephony service standard performance to date:


From 1 July 2013 to 20 August 2013, the ATO received 1,591,353 inbound calls and achieved service commitments of:

  • Tax practitioner calls - 90.8% of calls answered within 2 minutes;
  • General taxpayer calls - 81.5 % of calls answered within 5 minutes.

During this period, the average wait time was 37 seconds for Tax practitioners and 120 seconds for general taxpayers.

 Weekly updates on performance standards are published on the ATO’s website.

Income tax return integrity
Agents should continue to be vigilant regarding fraudulent returns and the ATO would like to thank agents for their continued assistance in alerting the ATO of potential fraudulent activity.

As at 21 August 2013, approximately:

  • 28,000 returns have been stopped for review;
  • 73% have been by registered preparer channels.

 Tip: To avoid unknowingly lodging fraudulent income tax returns, agents 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.

Tip: When a client books an appointment with an agent, remind them to bring their identification, including their bank account or financial institution details.

 Notice of Assessment

The ATO is aware that there are some system issues relating to incorrect payment due dates displaying on notices of assessments.  We are currently progressing a fix for the issue.  Communications will be issued to impacted agents.

Pre-Fill Update

As at 21 August 2013, data loaded onto the pre-filling tables was as follows:

  • Payment Summaries – 84%;
  • Interest – 95%;
  • Dividend – 90%;
  • Private Health Insurance – 19%;
  • Taxable Payments Annual Reports –expected to be loaded within the next couple of weeks.

Annual Payment Report
Issues which had been reported with lodging Annual Payment Reports through the portal were fixed as at 19th August 2013.

Client Validation Report
Tax agents who are experiencing difficulties in lodging returns via ELS or who believe that a validation edit is preventing the lodgment of a valid return should first check that they have applied all fixes, patches and releases issued by their software product.  If the tax agent’s ELS software product is up-to-date, then call 137 286 Fast Key Code 31 for assistance.

Call Centre staff will be able to advise if there is a known issue with either the ELS validation rules or an ELS software product.  If they are unable to answer the query, they will ensure it is escalated to the appropriate area to investigate.

Tax agents should be prepared to provide details of the software product and version they are using and a validation report number if one has been received from the ATO.  If an ATO validation report is not available then details of the error message provided by their software and the data attempted to be transmitted should be provided to enable the ATO to resolve more promptly.

Update on ATO Website

 The ATO continues to refine the ATO website.

The root cause of this issue has been fixed and there is a program of work to rectify any existing issues. If Tax Practitioners are seeing errors with the ATO website, we ask that they capture either the URL information or a screen shot when the error is encountered and send to the PALU mailbox

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The ATO is working with professional associations and are currently testing some solutions that will enable pages to be grouped together to enable single print topics. This issue continues to be a high priority.

Members who require further information about any of the above should contact us at Tax Policy