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Tax agents ‘relentlessly pushed to self-serve’ on ATO systems, says CA ANZ


Practitioners are frustrated with the increasing amount of administrative work they are required to do due to inefficiencies with Online Services for Agents, says the association.

By Miranda Brownlee 12 minute read

Accountants would like to see substantial improvements made to Online Services for Agents (OSfA) with the current system falling short in a wide range of reporting areas, CA ANZ said.

CA ANZ senior tax advocate Susan Franks said while members would prefer to resolve their issues through OSfA rather than deal with long waits on phone calls to the ATO, the design of certain aspects of the system can make this difficult.

“Tax agents are being relentlessly pushed to self-serve using OSfA but the design of the OSfA could be improved by giving greater consideration to the needs of the end user, the tax agent.


“Currently tax agents use a variety of methods to generate reports using OSfA. Some of these include manual downloads for each client and waiting for fortnightly updates to OSfA,” said Franks.

“These methods are not efficient and take substantial tax agent resources away from helping their clients.”

Franks explained that CA ANZ members are consequently becoming frustrated with the amount of unrecoverable administrative work that they are being increasingly asked to do by the ATO.

One of the recent examples raised by tax practitioners is the inability to create taxable payments annual report (TPAR) lists on demand.

Tax agents previously told Accountants Daily that the inability to obtain timely data on which clients have TPAR obligations was forcing them to waste time manually compiling lists.

“Tax agents want the ability to generate client lists at the push of one button in real-time in relation to all tax issues,” said Franks.

“Currently, that is possible in relation to income tax but not in relation to debt, fringe benefits tax, business activity statements, pay-as-you-go instalments and TPARs.”

She noted that CA ANZ members had worked with the ATO to help streamline the deferred lodgment processes and would be happy to work with the ATO to make OSfA more tax agent-friendly.

In a previous statement, the ATO said it welcomes feedback from the tax profession on how it can work with them to support their clients meet their reporting obligations.

The Tax Office also noted that while tax practitioners cannot access TPAR lodger lists via OSfA, the ATO does send a list to tax agents of which clients it expects will need to lodge a TPAR ahead of the deadline.

“Where a tax agent needs assistance with a client’s TPAR, we encourage them to contact us via their online services account,” it said.

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Miranda Brownlee

Miranda Brownlee


Miranda Brownlee is the deputy editor of SMSF Adviser, which is the leading source of news, strategy and educational content for professionals working in the SMSF sector.

Since joining the team in 2014, Miranda has been responsible for breaking some of the biggest superannuation stories in Australia, and has reported extensively on technical strategy and legislative updates.
Miranda also has broad business and financial services reporting experience, having written for titles including Investor Daily, ifa and Accountants Daily.

You can email Miranda
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