In January, the ATO began its gradual public beta rollout of the new online services for tax and BAS agents, set to be fully available by the end of March 2019.
The Tax Office has confirmed that all BAS agents should have received an email inviting them to join the new system.
Laurus Bookkeeping director, Cassandra Scott, who has been using the new service for nearly a month, believes it has been worth a lengthy wait.
“We’ve got a lot more visibility around client information than we’ve had previously,” said Ms Scott.
“The big winner at the moment is the clear visibility around payment plans for our clients and the ease of being able to set those up online and then having visibility immediately about what the payment instalment schedules are for clients which means it is a document we can send directly to a client so they are not dependent on the mail process.
“We are also now able to search and access client information far more logically. Historically we’ve need to have an ABN number to be able to call up a client record while now we just need to remember what our client’s name is – it sounds like a minor thing but simple things like that make it very easy to navigate.”
Feedback from other private testers last year were largely positive as well, particularly around new functionality, including increased visibility and access to more accounts; a better view of clients’ obligations and tax history, including debt and payment plan information for the last 10 years; and an overview screen that lets you quickly see what lodgement and payment obligations need action for your clients.
However, Ms Scott believes visibility of more accounts such as superannuation account balances should be made available to BAS agents as well.
“One of the things we’d like greater clarity around is superannuation accounts, we still don’t appear to have that information available to BAS agents,” said Ms Scott.
“Status of things like payment summary annual reports or taxpayer annual reports and getting that sort of information in here would be advantageous for us as well.”
As this is still a beta rollout, the ATO will continue to seek feedback from the industry and address common themes that pop up.
Jotham Lian is the editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.
Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.