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14 Mar 13 More on the 85% lodgment requirement

MEMBER 40 writes:

"I can see that the new lodgment quota system will just be another source of frustration between tax agents and the ATO. In particular I have concerns about the quality of the ATO data that it will use to 'judge' us and how transparent the system will be. As an example, I have just downloaded a lodgment list and find to my surprise that a number of clients for whom I have lodged CU forms by ELS advising that they do not have an obligation to lodge are still showing up on the lodgment list as outstanding. Obviously if the ATO counts these as still outstanding they are going to affect our percentage. To make matters worse, when I go to the ATO Portal to try and update the lodgment status there to 'return not necessary' for these clients, their system comes up with a message that there is an error and to contact the ATO. I am not prepared to spend hours trying to sort out this rubbish now, and as I have the validation reports for the CU forms, if it becomes an issue with the ATO I will rely on them to support my case. Obviously it will take hours then to be sorted out.

I would have thought it would be sensible for the ATO to provide, say in spreadsheet format, a listing of the supporting lodgment data to tax agents when they give them their percentage score so that the process is transparent and any problems can be sorted out now, rather than when the system goes live. I suspect the ATO will say that the data is available from the Portal now; however, there are bound to be timing differences between the report when we run it and the ATO's report, and, given the ATO's demonstrated lack of ability in the IT area, I wouldn't be surprised if there were errors in their percentage calculation system. At least if the ATO was transparent in its process, problems could be identified now rather than later."

MEMBER 41 writes:

"I would like to make three points on the 85% target/ lodgment issue, which mainly entails cleaning up client lists.

Firstly, the issue is that not all clients for whatever reason can be lodged as Not Necessary or Not Further Necessary on the Portal. If you do a Client Update for the same purpose, it does not work most of the time (and has not reliably worked for many years, 10+). These issues were not resolved with the multi-million dollar upgrade. So you have to lodge Nil forms to clear the item, all a pain in the rear, and the lifelong question, why can the system work correctly the first time?

Secondly, somewhat bizarrely, very old ex-clients appear back on client listings, even though we don't put them on, and the old ex-client doesn't. So how in the heck does the ATO put clients on the list that previously were deleted? This is a long term issue, going back years, 10+, and the new system does not stop it. Always wondered how the ATO adhere to the Privacy Principles in doing this, and in sending mail to us for ex clients. So how can we clean up our lists when the ATO puts on people improperly?

Thirdly, the 85% target is absolutely no, nil, zilch measure of a tax agent's practice. In my report of performance, I had 52 late lodgments, it is as if it is my fault. I would accurately estimate that 99.9% of late returns are solely the clients' doing. We have done quite a few 6 plus year multiple late client returns. The ATO obviously want us to do their lodgment enforcement, as they wanted us to do debt collection, in both cases I will definitely do neither. We do not control when clients bring in their tax information neither when they pay their tax. The very simple fact is if a client is not going to take notice of the big ATO, why will they take any notice of us?

ATO Executive, it is simply obtuse to use this 85% as a measure of a tax agent's performance.

PS Who is the lucky Member that has no problems with the Pothole - see Member 38, 2013 TAXVINE No 7 (8 March 2013) - can we all move next door???

Thank you again TAXVINE."

THE TAX INSTITUTE'S TAX COUNSEL, STEPHANIE CAREDES, COMMENTS: "Members who have queries about the new Lodgment Program framework, including the 85% on-time performance measure, are encouraged to attend information evenings the ATO will be holding to answer members' questions directly. Look out for a session near you. The first one is to be held in Hobart on 21 March at the ATO office from 4.30pm."

MEMBER 42 writes:

"In response to Member 39 last week: see 2013 TAXVINE No 7 (8 March 2013).

If I get a client who is lodging late and I have any concerns over my 85% I will lodge them on E-tax or assist them with a manual form. I cannot offer them any advantages by being on my lodgment program.

Also, keep a record of those clients who lodge late. Remove them from your program prior to the end of the year and then add them back on prior to 30 October in the new financial year.

If Tax Agents manage their programs as above I guess the ATO will at least feel as if they have achieved something?"

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