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08 Sep 2021 Tax Time 2021

Tax Time 2021

TPSG Tax Time 2021 Update

On Tuesday 31 August 2021, Senior Advocate, Robyn Jacobson, CTA attended the weekly meeting of the ATO’s Tax Practitioner Stewardship Group (TPSG) to discuss Tax Time 2021 matters.

The following key matters were discussed at the meeting:

Service delivery

The ATO advised that we are half-way through the Tax Time 2021 period and service delivery continues to track well. To date:

  • 2.3 million calls have been received
  • The Average Wait Time (AWT) for calls on the general queue is less than 5 minutes
  • 5 million refunds have issued with a total value of $13 billion.

The ATO advised that the agent deferral request phone service is now operational. The phone service allows registered agents to apply for a lodgment deferral for up to five clients. Further information will be in the Tax professionals newsletter on 1 September 2021.

ATO systems

Performance across all ATO channels continues to be stable. No issues or exceptions to report.

A member of the TPSG reported that one of their team members had received a prompt through myGovID to strengthen their credentials, however other team members had not received the prompt.

The ATO confirmed that it had commenced concurrent BETA testing of both applying for a TFN online and strengthening of the myGovID identity functionality.

Users who already have a myGovID will be able to strengthen their credential through adding the verification of photo identification against held information by government departments e.g. passport photo.

Users who do not yet have a TFN will need to establish a myGovID to a strong level to gain access to the online TFN service and receive a TFN online. The process is currently restricted to online TFN applications for Australian citizens with a valid Australian passport in this testing phase.

Access the link for further information about the online TFN application BETA.

The ATO advised that the alert/requests will be received by those people who have automated updates selected for the myGovID application, while those who manually update will not yet receive the message. In approximately one week, the ATO will ensure all users are required to update their myGovID application, allowing users to see the new functionality.

Discussion regarding the difference between myGov and myGovID was held, resulting in the ATO committing to providing the information and links post meeting, see below.

There is a multi-faceted, overarching communication approach to mitigate confusion between myGov and myGovID.

Over the last two years, myGovID communication campaigns have been implemented to assist in reducing confusion between myGov and myGovID. Most recently, a paid advertising campaign was delivered (7 June 2021 to 30 June 2021) to increase awareness that users can now use the myGovID app to log into myGov.

  • The myGovID home page predominately displays the difference between the services.
  • A specific myGovID webpage has been created which explains the differences, how to connect myGovID to myGov, and includes a promotional video.

The differences between myGov and myGovID are included at appropriate touchpoints as well.

Communications

Communication focused on support for clients and practices continues, including the following topics scheduled for this week’s Tax professionals newsletter:

  • The introduction of a new phone service which agents can use to request lodgment deferrals for up to five clients.
  • A reminder about the need to lodge prior year returns by 31 October to receive a lodgment program due date for these clients.

Future activities include:

  • A series of videos focused on the loss carry back tax offset will be released shortly. As well as answering any lingering questions from tax professionals about this measure, the videos have been designed to be easily shared with clients to help explain aspects of eligibility, calculating and reporting the offset.
  • A three-part video series on temporary full expensing will be released soon. The videos explain the eligibility requirements and how to claim the tax incentive for your clients.

Superannuation and employer obligations

The ATO acknowledged receipt of member examples of superannuation contribution rounding and calculation errors and confirmed that the issues were being further investigated. Further updates on the identification and implementation of a solution will be provided to members of the TPSG when they become available.

It was noted that the motion in the Senate to not accept the ATO’s request for Public Immunity (in relation to the Senate Order to provide details of employers with an annual turnover greater than $10 million who received JobKeeper payments) passed on 25 August 2021. The deadline for the Commissioner to provide the information is 4:30pm on 26 August 2021.

Small business

No update or issues to note.

Debt and lodgment

There are no changes to the previously reported position with regard to firmer action campaigns. The ATIO continues to monitor and adjust accordingly for lock down impacted areas.

The ATO noted there has been an increase in requests for lodgment deferral and payment plans and are ensuring they have adequate resourcing to respond and provide support.

ATO outbound correspondence

ATO Assistant Commissioner of Outbound Capability, Sarah Vawser, provided an overview of the intent, known constraints and work being progressed to improve the experience and effectiveness of outbound communications such as lodgment reminders.

Members of the TPSG were encouraged to send examples of outbound communication irritants, issues or

suggestions to the TPSG so that they can be considered. The ATO affirmed the commitment to making changes to improve the experience where it is in a position to do so.

Sarah confirmed that PAYG instalment reminder letters would be updated to include the full name of the client or business. As this requires systems change, this is likely to be implemented in October 2021.

Once the information has been received and analysed a further discussion will be arranged with members of the TPSG.

NSW Government stimulus update

A confidential discussion and update on the NSW government stimulus processing and guidance material was held with Service NSW.

Some useful links were referenced and are provided below:

Member discussion

  • A member of the TPSG raised an issue regarding the requirement to be registered for GST in order to receive some stimulus grants and queried whether the ATO had a process to expedite the registration for impacted clients. The ATO can now advise that there were no delays in processing GST registration requests and advised members to send any issues or example where this is not the experience to the TPSG.

  • A member advised there was concern that some clients may be impacted in the future by support payments they believed to be ‘tax-free’. The ATO advised that the list of grants and payments declared non-assessable non-exempt (NANE) income are added to the list and published to the website shortly after the legislative instruments declaring them NANE have passed. The ATO further advised that communications addressing this issue would be drafted and disseminated in due course, in recognition of the previous conversation where a request for the ATO to consider reducing its communications in order to give practitioners space to focus on assisting their clients.

  • A member provided a suggestion to improve specific areas of the current temporary full expensing guidance, particularly as it relates to over-franking and the impact of making these support payments NANE income. The ATO noted the suggestion and look to ensure its guidance considered the issue where possible.

  • A member noted it would be useful if the ATO provided some of the lodgment statistics or trends that the ATO are experiencing in relation to BAS, as it would provide insight into how the tax professional community are performing. The ATO noted the suggestion and committed to looking at how we might be able to do this.

Useful Tax Time resources

COVID-19 landing page

Occupation and industry guides

Tax time 2021 toolkit

Records you need to keep guide.

ATO lodgment statistics — as at 2 September 2021

The ATO has received over 6.59 million current YTD 2021 Individual lodgments, which is a 2% increase compared with the same time last year. Of these:

  • Over 3.49 million were lodged by self-preparers
  • Over 3 million were lodged by tax agents.

Refunds* — more than 5.29 million individual 2021 refunds YTD have been issued, totalling more than $14.12 billion with an average refund of $2,667.

Since 1 July 2021, total demand for the ATO’s contact centre was more than 2.42 million calls.

* As refunds are only issued on weekdays, comparing the exact date across different years will result in regular fluctuations in reporting.

A link to the key messages from this meeting is here. (Note: the key messages were not released by the ATO until the Friday following the meeting.)

Tax time is prime time for tax avoidance schemes

Promoters of tax avoidance schemes often use tax time as an opportunity to pitch schemes for their own financial gain.

The ATO encourages you to be aware of the red flags associated with tax avoidance schemes. If you have been approached by a promoter of a tax avoidance scheme or are inadvertently involved in one, contact the ATO right away.

Read more here.

Help for your practice and support for your clients

The ATO recognises that many tax practitioners have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and may be struggling to keep on top of their clients’ lodgment obligations. If you need help at this time, the ATO encourages you to reach out to them.

A list of some of the services available that can help you and your clients get back on track can be found here .

More time to lodge and pay

If you need more time to meet any upcoming lodgment and payment obligations, including activity statements and Taxable payments annual reports(TPARs), the ATO has a range of options available.

You can ask for help through a Supported lodgment program by sending the ATO a request through Online services for agents Practice mail, and by selecting the Debt and Lodgment topic and Supported lodgment program subject. There is no need to fill in the deferral spreadsheet with this option. The ATO will get in touch with you to see how they can help.

New phone service for lodgement deferrals

To improve access to the ATO’s lodgment support options, the ATO has introduced a new telephone service which you can use to request short-term lodgment deferrals for up to five clients. Find out more about the obligations you can use this service for.

Tax Time Podcast – Best practice within the tax profession

In the ATO’s latest episode of the Tax InVoice podcast, Assistant Commissioner, Sylvia Gallagher, answers questions and outlines the current support available. Hosts Sally and David also talk with special guest Greg Lewis from the Tax Practitioners Board. Greg covers off on best practice for tax professionals during challenging times.

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