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08 Nov 2018 Latest ATO news

Plan for ATO annual closure 

This year, the ATO’s annual office closure starts on Monday 24 December and will reopen at 8.00am on Wednesday 2 January 2019. 

Lodge as early as possible to give the ATO time to process your clients' returns, activity statements or other forms before the annual office closure. Returns or activity statements lodged on or after 7 December 2018 are less likely to be finalised before the closure. 

In planning your work between now and then, keep in mind that there are three weekends of systems maintenance during November and December. The ATO recommends that you check the System maintenance page for the latest planned maintenance information. 

ATO system maintenance 

ATO online systems (including portals and myTax) may be impacted in part or in full for scheduled weekly maintenance from 11.30pm on Friday 9 Nov to 7am on Monday 12 November AEDT. Check the ATO’s system maintenance page for upcoming maintenance times. 

Do your clients own a rental property? 

If your clients own a residential rental property, remind them they are not able to claim deductions for travel expenses relating to inspecting, maintaining, or collecting rent. Your clients can deduct travel expenses if they are carrying on a rental property business or are an excluded entity. 

If your clients have already incorrectly claimed deductions for the cost of travel to and from their property in their 2018 tax return, they will need to request an amendment. 

The law change came into effect on 1 July 2017 and affects tax returns from 2017-18 and onwards. 

Find out more here. 

If you don't lodge 

Tax returns, activity statements, other documents and information must be lodged or returned by certain dates to avoid penalties. 

Find out more here 

Overseas obligations – HELP and TSL debts 

If you live and work overseas and have a Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) or Trade Support Loan (TSL) debt, you are required to: 

  • update your contact details and submit an overseas travel notification if you have an intention to, or already reside overseas, for 183 days or more in any 12 months
  • lodge your worldwide income or a non-lodgment advice. 

These changes apply to new and existing HELP and TSL debts. More information can be found here. 

Interact with the ATO – Open Forums 

Open Forums provide an opportunity for you to interact with the ATO in your local area. At an Open Forum you can: 

  • hear about the latest updates and changes
  • raise questions and participate in open conversations with us about matters of importance to you and your practice. 

Your attendance at an Open Forum may contribute towards your continuing professional education (CPE) with the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB). 

Big picture for tax and super professionals 

Read the ATO’s Big Picture for Tax Professionals to find out: 

  • how the ATO is working closely with you and acting on your feedback
  • what attracts the ATO’s attention for individuals and small business
  • the ATO’s guidance products that outline what behaviours raise concern
  • how the ATO manages debt by tailoring their approach depending on your client's circumstances.
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