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25 Jul 14 On the 85% lodgment requirement

MEMBER 94 writes: 

"Under the heading 'Helping to meet your lodgement program performance', the ATO were kind enough to send me my statistics. 

Condescending, most definitely, but putting that to one side, I managed 80% compared to 78% member average – above average – awesome, go me…though of course then there was a big note that I had FAILED to meet obligations of 85%.

That’s interesting, I thought to myself, as I tried to understand how I somehow failed. Then I really thought about it. Of my clients I had on my books before 31 October 2013, not one single lodgment was late. No ITR, BAS, FBT return, PAYG summary etc. Not one single one as I’m still a very small practice and can keep on top of it. Then I wondered how I got the fail mark and it dawned on me that I took on a number of individuals post October with returns from previous years outstanding as well as the current one. One with many years outstanding. One company lodging ESS forms late (they identified they should register only after the due date). Everything there was definitely all late – but were late before I even added them to my list. And, as a result of my work, they are actually now all up to date.

So my conclusion is simple – I took late clients on, got them back up to date (ie making them good taxpayers) and my reward was to get an email that I failed to meet statistics. Way to go, ATO, for encouraging voluntary compliance. I suspect the best idea for me (given I can choose) is not to take on clients with outstanding obligations so as not to penalise my current ones if they ever need concessions. A good policy outcome driven by the ATO here.

Of course, rather helpfully, the email did state I could always call the number the ATO provided to discuss my performance with them . And I did think about it for ten seconds or so then decided I would call the number the day I’m allowed to send them a 'Call Centre Performance Report' next year with their on-time call percentages for when I have to spend my day on hold trying to discuss a report that should never be sent in the first place."

MEMBER 95 writes:

"After another busy tax year, I was fortunate enough to take the last week off and spend time with my wife and kids who, surprisingly, still remembered who I was.

On my return to the office, our lodgment performance statistics for the last year had arrived. Knowing how hard we’d all worked to really have a crack at the 85% benchmark this year, imagine my disappointment when we only achieved 84.9%!  Against an 'Average for Similar Practices' of 83.9%, you’d think not a bad effort, until I read further down the page..."You have failed to meet the performance benchmark for the 2013-14 lodgment program year'.

Motivation to try harder next year, I think not!"

TAX COUNSEL THILINI WICKRAMASURIYA COMMENTS: A meeting of the ATO’s Lodgment Working Group has been scheduled for 11 August 2014. We will raise issues with the Lodgment Program including those raised by Members 94 and 95 in that forum and inform all members of the outcome in TaxVine.