Tax technical representatives of Tax & Super Australia recently attended an ATO open forum. The ATO stages these forums at locations around the country, and says the intent of these forums is to:

  • hear directly from tax practitioners about matters affecting them, their practice and the broader tax professional community
  • provide an opportunity to raise questions for discussion and interact with the ATO in an open environment
  • allow the ATO to share information on matters of key importance.

Some of the matters raised were not able to be answered at the time, but the ATO provided answers a short time later. Some of the questions and their answers are listed below.

Client communication list enhancement
Tax agent question: Is it possible to have a flag in the Client communication list to show whether a client has viewed the correspondence via their myGov account?  Tax practitioners would like some visibility of what their clients have viewed.

ATO response: Currently it is not possible to have a flag or indicator in the Client communication list to show whether a client has viewed correspondence in their myGov account.

This suggestion has been raised and considered previously and with the introduction of the new ATO online portals, continues to be a potential Client communication list enhancement for the future.

Paper activity statements
Question: When a client who is lodging their Business activity statements (BAS) by paper has their tax practitioner lodge an electronic variation, future activity statements are then sent electronically. Can this be fixed?

Response: Based on tax practitioner feedback, an electronic lodgment of a revision through the portals, SBR, ECI or ELS by a registered agent will no longer change how the next activity statement is issued.

If a client who normally lodges by paper has their registered agent lodge a revision electronically on their behalf, this electronic revision will not stop the client from receiving paper activity statements.

If this is not occurring please send any specific examples through to ATOOpenForums@ato.gov.au and we will review them to ensure our systems are working as intended.

External collection agency after hours contact
Question: What is the policy for external collection agencies making calls after hours? Tax practitioners are still receiving calls.

Response: The policy agreed to between the ATO and external collection agencies states that tax practitioner contact is to be made within normal business hours (9am to 5pm) unless otherwise advised by the tax practitioner.

Removing clients from client lists
Question: Can you provide instructions on permanently removing clients from client lists as even when the ATO has been advised of returns not necessary or further returns not necessary for clients, they still show as requiring lodgment on client lodgment lists.

Response: You can use the Tax Agent Portal, PLS client update transaction or an ELS client update (CU) transaction to advise us of a returns not necessary (RNN) for a specific year for a client or further returns not necessary (FRNN) for tax returns for all future years.

Lodging an FRNN advice will not remove your registered agent number from the client’s records.

Removing a client from your client list can be completed through the Tax Agent Portal, the BAS Agent Portal, ELS and PLS.

When removing a client from your client list there are a series of checks you should complete.  If your practice details are not removed from a client account before you delete them from your client list, your practice details will remain listed against that client on our system.  Before deleting a client from your client list, you must update their record and remove your details.

For information about adding and removing a client from your client list, including the details you need to update so we no longer contact you about the client, refer to:

Simplified BAS and GST-free component
Question: When using simplified BAS, how do you know the GST-free component on the sales?

Response: There is no change to which items have GST and which items do not have GST when using Simplified BAS. The reporting is simpler as businesses do not have to classify each transaction into one of potentially 17 different GST codes.  Instead there are only two codes – GST or no GST.

Data from third parties and data matching
Question: What sort of data does the ATO receive from third parties and how is this used in data matching?

Response: The ATO collects data from various third parties to:

  • provide better services for taxpayers – for example prefilling individuals’ tax returns
  • verify compliance with taxation obligations
  • maintain the integrity of the tax and super systems

Information is collected from a wide range of third party resources, both public and private, with more than 600 million transactions reported to us annually. For more information summarising our existing data sources and its use in data matching please see Third-party reporting and Data matching.

Additionally, three new legislated third party reporting regimes will commence reporting from 1 July 2018, namely:

  • Government grants and payments – government entities will report about the grants they make to ABN holders and payments for services provided
  • Business transactions made through payment systems – administrators of payment systems will report transactions they facilitate on behalf of a business where the business is receiving a payment, providing a refund or cash to a customer of the business
  • Transfers of reportable securities and units in a unit trust – the Australian Security and Investment Commission (reporting commenced 1 July 2016), stockbrokers, share registries, trustees and fund managers will report data on transactions (purchase and sale) involving shares or units.

Working holiday maker and the Tax File Number declaration
Question: There is currently no way of indicating you are a working holiday maker (visa 417 or 462) on the Tax File Number declaration form.  Will this be updated in the near future?

Response: The Tax file number declaration will be updated to include this information from September 2017. Once updated, question 7 on the form – “Are you an Australian resident for tax purposes?” will have three response options: resident, foreign resident, and working holiday maker.

Taxable payments annual report form
Question: How can I get a copy of the Taxable payments annual report (TPAR) form?

Response: If you’re unable to lodge online, you can order the Taxable payments annual report form (NAT 74109) online or by phoning our publications ordering service on 1300 720 092. For more information, please see Lodging your Taxable payments annual report.

Superannuation caps
Question: Will the superannuation caps be reported in the portals as they change?

Response: Changes to the superannuation caps will not be reported in the portal. However, all changes to the superannuation caps will be reported on the ATO website and published in the Tax Professionals newsletter. For more information, please see Super changes or if you haven’t already done so you can subscribe to the Tax professionals newsletter for weekly updates.

Superannuation webinars
Question: How do I register for Superannuation webinars?

Response: Webinars on super changes can be booked via the following links:  www.ato.gov.au/smsfwebinars or www.ato.gov.au/aprawebinars. All webinars are recorded and can be viewed through ATOtv if you are unavailable to attend the live sessions.

ABN application delays
Question: Why are there delays in processing ABN applications?

Response: We are committed to making it as easy as possible to apply for an ABN and are aware of the impacts associated with the delays in issuing an ABN.

Over the past two years, the Australian Business Register has made significant progress in digital technology, making it quicker and easier for new businesses to apply for an ABN. Over 99% of ABN applications are now received online and, following enhancements to the online ABN application process made in late 2016, around 90% of applications now receive an immediate outcome.  Prior to these enhancements only 74% obtained a decision on the spot.

A significant number of those that do not obtain a decision online have failed to establish proof of identity. Typically a TFN is used to prove the identity, but if not available we use the entity name, registration date, and postal address to prove the identity. If the information entered does not match the information held in the ATO and the identity cannot be verified online manual intervention is required. Where manual intervention is required, generally the ABN applications are processed within 10 days.

ELS and Windows 10
Question: Are there connectivity issues between ELS and Windows 10?

Response: There are connectivity issues between ELS and Windows 8 and 10. Cisco VPN Client (the software application which lets you securely connect to a virtual private network) is not supported for Windows 10 and is best effort support for Windows 8. If you intend to use Windows 8 or Windows 10 for ELS lodgments contact your ELS software provider for advice.  The Cisco AnyConnect product superseded VPN Client and is supported for Windows 8 and 10.

For more information please see Troubleshooting for businesses and tax practitioners.