The structure of the new tax agent portal, promised for release in the first quarter, forms part of the ATO’s push to digitise communications with tax practitioners.
The Tax Office’s ultimate goal is a paper-free environment for tax agents, and its additional funding to modernise its systems will be directed to that mission.
“We are working on two fronts making it easier for tax agents to get electronic correspondence,” chief information officer at the ATO, Ramez Katf, told Accountants Daily.
The volume of paperwork around BAS deadline indicates paper is still central to the business processes of many accountants, which Mr Katf intends to change over time.
“We are trying to find the right mechanism for different business [which] doesn’t break everything. There’s no simple or uniform answer,” Mr Katf said.
“We are moving towards paperless, absolutely,” he said.
Mr Katf stressed there is “no intent to make this compulsory” in 2019. Rather, the ATO intends to gradually transition the profession towards a wholly digital environment.
Product providers are seizing the ATO’s paperless push, including those like iPracticeApps.
General manager Ron Drost said changes like single touch payroll prompted his firm to consider how to engineer products for an environment where accountants won’t be prompted to act by a traditional letter in the mail.
“The really big change is the STP deadline of 1 July next year, which is going to drive a massive increase in people getting MyGov accounts. That’s where a payment summary will be delivered,” Mr Drost told Accountants Daily at Accountech Live in Melbourne last year.
“By stealth, the ATO are removing the paper. When a client signs up to MyGov, a lot of paper stops coming through the mail to the accountant – so a process initiated by opening an envelope needs to be re-engineered,” he added.