On 6 July 2021, the ATO’s Tax Practitioner Stewardship Group met, to review matters of particular interest to Tax Agents, in commencing the 2020-21 income tax return lodgement season. There is a collection, here, of information and links, which Tax Agents ought to find useful.
See below for further detail.
ATO’s Tax Practitioner Stewardship Group – Tax Time 2021 Update
On Tuesday 6 July 2021, the ATO’s Tax Practitioner Stewardship Group resumed weekly meetings for Tax Time 2021.
The following key matters were discussed at the meeting:
- Service delivery — The volume of calls received are in line with forecasts. Call wait times on the agent telephone queue are averaging less than one minute. The ATO has commenced processing income tax returns, and Notices of Assessment are expected to begin to be issued from 12 July. The STP finalisation date extension was well received by the tax professional community, although finalisation rates are currently only slightly less than those made by this time last year.
- ATO systems — The ATO confirmed that when pre-fill data is received from the third party, it is available at the same time for both Online Services for Agents (OSfA) and myTax (myGov). Agents are encouraged to wait for pre-fill data to become available before lodging income tax returns.
- Communications — The ATO’s full suite of Tax Time 2021 toolkits and products are now available on the ATO website. This includes:
- 11 Tax Time Toolkits —
- one general toolkit for tax professionals which consolidates all products, as well as
- 8 industry-specific toolkits,
- a dedicated small business toolkit and
- a new product for investors
- 39 occupation posters to help taxpayers understand what they can and cannot claim, specific to their occupation.
- 11 Tax Time Toolkits —
- Superannuation employer obligations — The publishing of the transfer balance cap amounts for individuals has been delayed. These are expected to be published from 15 July 2021. The YourSuper tool is now available for taxpayers.
- Small business ‘JobKeeper’ amounts — From early July, sole traders who have received JobKeeper payments for themselves and any eligible employees will be able to find the total amount of JobKeeper payments they have received through pre-fill. The amount will be provided as ‘information only’ and will not be mapped to a label. To help small businesses accurately report their JobKeeper payments, the ATO will be contacting businesses that have enrolled for JobKeeper and have an eligible business participant including sole traders, companies, trusts or partnerships (or their registered tax agents) through digital inbox, email or letter to let them know the total amount of JobKeeper payments they have received from 1 July 2020 to help them prepare their 2020–21 income tax return. Small businesses and their agents should review and cross-check the payment amounts with their own records.
Online Services for Business is performing well and is a complementary service to OSFA. The Business Portal will retire at the end of July.
- Debt and lodgment — As part of the ATO’s re-engagement approach, firmer action activities have recommenced. The ATO are mindful of the impacts of COVID-19 lockdowns and are monitoring the situation and adapting approaches accordingly.
TPSG members requested that the ATO be mindful of the timing of action given that many taxpayers may be waiting on a refund to be assessed to balance an outstanding debt.
- Member issues/open discussion — Members queried if the ATO have considered extending the working from home short cut method into the 2021–22 income year. The ATO advised that they will take this opportunity to make the fixed rate method easier to use, and more information on that will be shared at a later date. For now, taxpayers should keep receipts and a good record of the hours they are working from home for 2021–22 claims.
A link to the key messages from this meeting is here. (Note: the key messages were not released by the ATO until the Monday following the meeting.)
Checking the progress of returns online
Save time and check the progress of your clients’ tax returns online, including information about reasons for processing delays. Watch the ATO’s digital education series to learn more about performing common tasks in Online services for agents, including checking the progress of your clients’ returns.
Tax treatment of COVID-19 disaster payments
If your clients received a COVID-19 disaster payment or Pandemic leave disaster payment from Services Australia, this payment will need to be included manually in their 2020–21 tax return. You’ll need to obtain this information from your clients as it’s not available in Online services for agents. To ensure this payment is reflected accurately in your client’s 2020–21 tax return, make sure you:
- input any COVID-19 disaster payments at label 24V; or
- add the Income Details schedule at the field ‘Australian Government benefit taxable amount’ (INCDTLS128) with field ‘Australian Government benefit type’ (INCDTLS126) set to ‘Special’.
Private health insurance pre-fill data availability
Your clients’ private health insurance (PHI) data is automatically pre-filled in their tax return by late July. You can then review their pre-filled information and add any missing details. It’s important that you correctly report the tax claim code that best suits your client’s circumstances for the lodgment year, as it will affect their private health insurance rebate amount.
Income statement ‘tax ready’
If your clients are eager to lodge their tax returns, ensure their income statements are marked as ‘tax ready’ before lodging. This will reduce the likelihood of having to make an amendment later.
Four reasons to check your donations this tax time
The ATO is urging taxpayers to make sure they have a record of any donation they are claiming this tax time. Last year, nearly two thirds of the charitable claims adjusted were because the taxpayer could not prove they had made the donation.
Read more about the four main reasons your donation or gift may not be tax deductible.
A helping hand this Tax Time
The ATO has for the 33rd year in a row, launched the Tax Help program, a free and confidential service that assists around 30,000 people with simple tax affairs each year.
Assistant Commissioner, Tim Loh explained that the program relies upon more than 750 dedicated ATO-trained community volunteers.
Generally, the Tax Help program is open to anyone with simple tax affairs, earning around $60,000 or less in salary or wages.
Read more here.