The tax office’s new online services platform is set for a public beta rollout in the third quarter of the calendar year but bookkeepers have been urged to brace for a series of planned outages to the current system in the build-up to tax time.
New ATO systems set for public testing amidst upcoming downtime
The ATO’s beta testing of its new digital service has been underway since 12 December 2017 but has largely been kept private to a group of approximately 100 tax agents, but according to ATO guidance timeline sighted by The Bookkeeper, public testing is set to roll out in September this year.
Association of Accounting Technicians chief executive, Rochelle Park, said feedback from the community has been largely positive so far, and is hopeful that it will replace the current system that has plagued bookkeepers in recent times.
“I'm really looking forward to the ATO's release of their new online services platform and I know the ATO are currently piloting those new systems to make sure that when it is released to our space, it's going to be the most smooth transition possible because of the extent of the piloting that they have been conducting,” said Ms Park.
“That will be a very welcome relief to the bookkeeping community who do unfortunately experience lack of efficiencies in terms of managing their workloads and their staff workloads at times when there are ATO systems outages.”
Tax time 2018
The tax office has advised that in the build-up to tax time 2018, its online system, including BAS agent and tax agent portals, and the Practitioner Lodgement Service (PLS) will be unavailable from 8 to 10 June; 22 to 25 June; and 29 to 30 June.
Further, the ATO’s online systems will also be unavailable in part or in full for scheduled weekly maintenance every Tuesday from 11.30pm to Wednesday 7.00am; Thursday 11.30pm to Friday 7.00am; and Saturday 11.30pm to Sunday 7.00am (all AEST).
Ms Park said that, in view of the significant downtime ahead, bookkeepers should start to ensure they begin organising client data as early as possible.
“Bookkeepers should start working now around sharing information with their clients well in advance of 30 June so that everyone is well planned and well organised to execute out on the task that needs to happen post 1 July,” said Ms Park.
“Especially in relation to STP, where you've got clients who are going to be caught in that, that there are a few steps that need to be taken to ensure they are ready to go.”