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11 Feb 2021 Member Advocacy

Change to digital activity statements — response by Senior Advocate, Robyn Jacobson, CTA

Many of our members have expressed their concerns with the ATO’s recent change to client correspondence which is causing issues for practitioners and their clients. The issue relates to the recent change in the clients’ correspondence preferences for delivery of the quarterly PAYG instalment notices (also known as instalment activity statements (IAS)) from paper to digital. While many taxpayers lodge or pay their PAYG instalments by digital means, many like the arrival of a paper IAS to prompt them to lodge/pay or as a means of client engagement to ensure payment deadlines are met.

The issue has arisen due to the decommissioning of an old ATO system known as Electronic Commerce Interface (ECI), and affects IASs from the December 2020 quarter onwards.

Clients can access their myGov account to see if an IAS has been issued, and agents can check on OSfA for each client, but this is not a practical solution moving forwards.

The greatest concerns from our members relate to:

  • the absence of a notification that the IAS has been generated/issued and is due for payment;
  • the inability of agents to access a list of clients who have an IAS due for payment;
  • the absence of ATO communications on the change with affects large numbers of taxpayers;
  • clients who are not digital and don’t have an email address to receive reminders;
  • there being no apparent trigger for the change from paper to digital preferences.

This issue was raised with The Tax Institute late last year, and the matter was escalated by us to the ATO at that time. We have been working collaboratively with the ATO, and subsequently with the other professional bodies, to design a workable, practical solution as soon as possible.

As an interim measure, the ATO has confirmed that it has arranged to send out paper notifications until a digital solution can be implemented. The ATO will be working with the profession to make sure that this solution is workable for practitioners and their clients.

In the meantime, clients who are self-lodgers should have received an email notification this week for the December 2020 IAS (which is due for payment by 2 March 2021) reminding them that their PAYG instalment is due soon.

We will provide further information as it comes to hand.


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