The ATO has announced that if there are practitioners who may need help meeting their lodgment program deadlines as a result of the unplanned systems outages in December and now February, additional services and support are to be made available. On-time lodgment goal affected by those outages?

“We know the outages created lodgment backlogs for some of you,” the ATO says, “so we deferred the 21 December 2016 and 15 January 2017 due dates to help.”

It says that if tax agents lodged within these deferred periods that their clients will not be penalised. Further, the ATO has affirmed that the 85% on-time lodgment requirement for tax practitioners will not be affected.

The ATO also says if tax practitioners require additional deferrals, they can:

The ATO says it will review any deferral requests in light of the likely affects that would have been caused by the outages in December and again in February.

“While the availability of deferrals should assist you in managing your lodgment program, we understand that as a consequence of the outages some of you may not be able to meet the 85% on-time lodgment requirement,” the ATO says. “Where this is the case we will not apply sanctions this year.”

 

A Tax & Super Australia member shares the following (edited) thoughts and observations

[Note that members are welcome to add their own comments and reflections. Please email support@taxandsuperaustralia.com.au with the words “ATO outage” in the subject line.]

Just a quick note to congratulate you on your coverage of the ATO outages in Podcast 109. You are obviously well-across the issues, and you have done well to broadcast that to your audience. 

The member says the ATO outages have been devastating and costly to the tax profession in both money and reputation. He makes, among others, the following observations.

  • The ATO is increasingly engaging directly with taxpayers directly, surreptitiously undermining the highly trained tax profession by pretending an increasingly complicated tax system can be dumbed down to a simple myTax app and turn unwitting taxpayers into brain surgeons once a year, sitting down with their mobile device and lodging a tax return during a TV commercial break.
  • Often it seems that a taxpayer can do more with the ATO directly that a professional tax agent embedded within ATO systems can do. “Alex” is available on the ATO public website, while agents are sending staff home, apologizing, and losing clients.
  • At the same time, it makes the tax profession look inept and compromised, with too frequent denial of access the critical portal and lodgment functions that are supposed to support us in our professional responsibilities. 
  • The ATO forces us down a digital path, but then turns the lights off when we get there.
  • Yet the ATO suggests that 85% on-time lodgment remains a viable policy, and offers without irony the statement: “While the availability of deferrals should assist you in managing your lodgment program, we understand that as a consequence of the outages some of you may not be able to meet the 85% on-time lodgment requirement. Where this is the case we will not apply sanctions this year.” I’m not even sure the portal has been up 85% of the time since July 1.

If this is the ATO’s version of reinvention, of digital disruption, then I can’t afford this reinvention any more. Please keep up the communication to your membership, because they need to know the train that is about to hit them.

Another member writes:

Your webinar did not disclose the last outage correctly, as it was in fact 8.10am Thu 02.02.17 not from Fri 03.02.17!
The ATO concession of 8 days from 15.02.17 to 23.02.17 is an insult to our intelligence!
The ATO should scrap the 85% lodgment strategy, it should be simply scrapped under the current ATO circumstances and potential future outages that must occur again. Just not appropriate, totally unreasonable!!

(Note that the views expressed on this page do not necessarily reflect those held by Tax & Super Australia). On-time lodgment goal affected by those outages?