Online services for agents is on the horizon

Online services for agents

The ATO’s “Online services for agents” is a new secure system to access services you use in the tax and BAS agent portals. Online services for agents includes new features and functions not available in the portals, however the ATO says it will retain features that practitioners have nominated as being helpful and useful.

Online services for agents is now available for all tax and BAS agents in a public beta. You can access Online services for agents using any of the ATO’s existing portal links.

Note that the functions available to you in the system are determined by the services you provide as a tax or BAS agent and your Access Manager permissions. This means you may not have access to view all features available.

See also:

  • Tax Wrap podcast (episode 188): Deputy Commissioner, Intermediaries, Andrew Watson, speaks with Tax & Super Australia about Online services for agents. Listen here.
  • ATO podcast – Tax inVoice:  Andrew Watson speaks with Chris Hooper, CEO of Accodex about Online services for agents. Listen here.
  • Support: support, including user guides and webinars, is available on the ATO’s Online services for agents user support page.

The descriptions below are supplied by the ATO, and indicate some of the key benefits and changes practitioners will see in Online services for agents.

Predictive search – this will allow you to search for a client by name. Once you have entered three or more characters in the search field, the drop down will start to suggest relevant clients from your client list with the same characters. To search using an identifier, such as a TFN or ABN, you will need to enter the whole identifier.

Help – prompts and help are available as you work through a feature. Select the Help button on the right hand side of the screen to find more details on the feature you are using.

Customise your page – there are set default options for what you see on the agent homepage and for each client. You can customise the Feature and Quick links available to suit your needs.

Multiple screens – you can work in the system across multiple windows. Open more than one client at a time, in multiple browser windows. Right click on any menu item and select Open in a new window.

Agent homepage and client summary – there are two main menus you will need to navigate between:

  • the agent homepage for actions relevant to your practice
  • the client summary for client specific actions.

Add client – you no longer need to enter the client’s name exactly as it appears in the ATO’s system. For individuals, enter their identifier and date of birth. For non-individuals, enter their identifier and name.

Add or remove client – after adding or removing a client, the system may take up to 15 minutes for a client to appear or be removed from your client list. During this time, you can access the clients’ records using an identifier to search or by the link provided on the confirmation screen.

Client list – all clients who have a link to your registered agent number (RAN) will be included in your client list. These clients may not have appeared in the portal directory. You can view links in the Maintain authorisation feature to see which links to your practice remain in place. You can use Remove client to remove them.

Payment plans – visibility of your client’s existing payment plans is now available. You can also choose to make a payment plan for your client without contacting the ATO in most situations. If you are new to payment arrangements, visit Help with paying for detailed information before making a payment plan for your client.

Maintain authorisations – the ATO recognises the need for BAS agents to have a joint access to a client’s record. You can now easily see if another agent exists for your client and will be prompted before removing an authorisation for another agent. This will mitigate the risk of agents being removed in error.

Restricted clients – where the system has a certain status set for a client, such as deceased, you may not be able to access the clients’ record. If you cannot access the clients’ record, you will need to contact the ATO.

For action – when accessing a client record, you will see a list of your clients’ main outstanding obligations that need actioning.

Tax registrations – besides GST and pay as you go (PAYG) withholding, you can also register, update and cancel:

  • fuel tax credits (FTC)
  • wine equalisation tax (WET)
  • luxury car tax (LCT).

Consolidated summary of ATO accounts – view and print a summary of all ATO accounts held by your clients, including the balance and overdue amount in one place. This includes accounts that are not visible in the portals, such as Superannuation Guarantee.

Payments – payment options replace payment slips, and the cheque payment option has been removed. A card payment feature has been included.

Account login – for practices with multiple registered agent numbers (RANs), you can see all the RANs you have access to, and easily move from one RAN to another.

Favourite clients – you can create a list of clients to quickly access as your favourites, adding and removing clients as favourites to suit your needs. You could use this feature to add a list of clients that you need to work on for the week and quickly move between these clients from your favourites list without having to search.

Income tax and fringe benefits tax
Tax history – access details of your clients’ processed tax returns from 2010 onwards, even if you didn’t prepare or lodge the return. Return schedules will not be displayed.

Progress of return – check and monitor the progress of your client’s tax return in real time without needing to contact the ATO.

Lodgment program performance – this is to see how you are tracking with your 85% on-time lodgment performance (updated each Sunday) and access two years of performance statistics.

Non-lodgment advice – this is similar to a return not necessary. The system uses real-time validation to display eligible years you can lodge a non-lodgment advice for, and whether lodgment is successful or unsuccessful. You can currently only submit a non-lodgment advice for an individual. For non-individuals you will need to use the portal to submit a non-lodgment advice until this feature is available.

Super fund details – see a consolidated view of all your individual clients’ super funds and balances, including the breakdown of their total super balance as at the last reporting date. This real time information gives you visibility of all super related accounts in the ATO, including ATO held super.

Super functions – view bring-forward arrangement details, including the remaining balance and transfer balance cap details, as well as lodge transfer balance account reports for individual clients. You can also lodge elections for your clients for concessional, non-concessional and transfer balance caps.



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