10 Apr 15 On completing ATO online forms – the ATO responds
In 2015 TAXVINE No 11 (2 April 2015) Member 64 wrote:
“I recently spent over an hour trying to complete and submit the new ATO Tax Agent deferral forms. It seems the ATO are using their own version of self-writeable PDFs. I completed and ‘saved’ 4 separate forms as the forms were not providing space for additional taxpayers. After saving the forms and going onto the portal to lodge them, I thought I had better double check the form before attaching. Abracadabra – all data had disappeared.
Whatever happened to the simple MS Excel forms that used to be available for lodgement deferral requests? At least they worked properly.
After speaking with our IT manager, apparently there are a lot of issues with all types of ATO forms. Do the ATO even test these things when they come up with these ‘improvements’?
I did finally manage to save a form that retained data and lodge it via the portal. It only took an hour and a half for what should have been a 10 minute maximum task.
If there was a way we could add all of the time lost that these ‘efficiency measures’ implemented by the ATO costs us onto our lodgement targets, we’d all be at 100%.”
TAX COUNSEL THILINI WICKRAMASURIYA NOTES: A draft of the new deferral form was discussed at a meeting of the ATO Lodgment Working Group on 8 October 2014 and subsequently circulated by the ATO for comment by the group on 22 October 2014. We were then advised that final user testing of the new deferral form was conducted with practitioner members of that group from 20 November to 22 November 2014.
THE ATO NOW RESPONDS:
“The recent changes to the lodgment deferral application forms were undertaken following feedback and consultation with practitioners and professional association representatives. We decided to update the form to PDF following this feedback. These changes also ensure that all of our forms are compliant with web content accessibility guidelines, and will reduce instances where we need to contact agents to clarify information on the submitted forms.
We have limited the forms to include up to 100 clients to reduce the risk of processing or transpositional errors. However, up to six application forms (with a total size of 3.7MB) can be attached to one portal message if you need to request deferrals on greater than 100 clients at one time. To reduce any complications when saving the form, it is best to use the embedded ‘Save form’ button on the bottom of the form. We have recently added these directions to our website.”