Among some of the updates and new data available for the pre-filling service 2018, a work-related expenses message indicating which clients made higher-than-expected claims last year will now be available on the PLS.
Further, there will be a dividend and interest income message indicating which of your clients may not have reported all their income last year, as well as a new amount pre-filled where your client had capital proceeds from disposals of shares and units.
While the ATO expects pre-fill information to be available by mid-August, Absolute Accounting Services director Gavin Swan believes the benchmark warnings will be an “invaluable” tool to safeguard against clients who are pushing for more deductions.
“Those warnings are invaluable because where you have a client that wants to push the envelope, you can say, ‘Listen, last year the tax office has flagged this,’ and it's there in black-and-white for them and we find that those sorts of warnings and information that comes out in the pre-fill, including sale of property, are invaluable,” said Mr Swan.
“That is the sort of stuff that may be missing from your early pre-fills in July.”
However, Mr Swan believes that if practitioners cannot afford to wait till mid-August, a good practice would be to run through the previous year’s reports as a precaution against any uncertainties.
“I might be looking out for the interest has not turned up this year but I know that last year a big lump of interest turned up as income, or I know that looking at the dates of payment summaries there may be a couple of jobs that were held over at 30 June last year, so I know I am looking out for possibly two or three sources of income in relation to jobs,” said Mr Swan.
“They are the sort of things you get the nasty letters about six months down the track to say have if you have emitted employment income or interest income. So if you can rerun last year's pre-fill and do a comparison — not talking about tax law here, we are just talking about basic client interaction and being analytical and trying to help them not get that embarrassing letter down the track.
“Have a look at last year’s tax return to see what populated there and then again we are talking about the basics — interest, income, dividend income, employment income, did they have a HECS debt last year all of that sort of things.”
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.