The practitioner lodgment service (PLS) is the new channel that will allow tax professionals to lodge forms electronically with the ATO. It is intended that the PLS will replace the electronic lodgment service (ELS) as the primary lodgment channel by the end of March 2017.
In the meantime, and as these sorts of deadlines tend to run out disarmingly quickly, tax practitioners may find it helpful to keep in mind the following necessary steps that need to be taken to prepare for the upgrade to the PLS.
Getting ready to transition
Confirming your software update plan: Depending on the sort of practice management software being deployed in your office, you may simply receive your usual tax time software upgrade to begin lodging through the PLS. Note however that you may need to set aside additional time for training and other preparation.
Your software provider should contact you: The timing for your transition to the PLS will depend on your software provider. And don’t be surprised if you find that you have already been lodging some forms through the PLS, as some software providers will be transitioning gradually to the PLS throughout the year.
The ATO advises that it understands that software providers should be in touch to advise what you need to do to update your software, and if there are any additional steps that differ from your usual software update process.
Authenticating your software: To ensure you can continue to lodge tax returns through the PLS, you need to check your AUSkey credentials are up to date. Your software provider will guide you on which steps you need to take.
Online (cloud based) software
If you use online SBR-enabled software you will no longer use your AUSkey to interact with the ATO through your software. Your software provider will make this possible, however once you’re contacted by them you will be required to notify the ATO.
Follow the directions to notify the ATO of a hosted SBR software service if your software provider advises that you are affected by this change. And note that if you don’t notify the ATO and continue to lodge with a shared client AUSkey, your AUSkey may be revoked, as this is a breach of AUSkey terms and conditions.
You will need to check and assign lodgment permissions for you and your staff in the ATO’s Access Manager to continue lodging when you switch to the PLS.
To give your staff access to the clients of your registered agent number, you need to authorise their AUSkey in Access Manager and give them the necessary permissions to lodge.
This process is similar to assigning permissions for your staff to access client records in the portals. Only Administrator or Access Administrators will be able to set the lodgment permissions for users.
Other software and the portals
The ATO says the change from ELS to PLS does not affect how you authenticate when using the portals, the electronic commerce interface (ECI) or any other AUSkey-enabled products.
The ATO says that maintaining access to the portals is essential as it allows you access to a range of tools, services and information about client records, including the Client communication list (CCL).
You can continue to manage your AUSkey access through Access Manager.