Speaking to Accountants Daily, Institute of Certified Bookkeepers executive chair said he has now been made aware of several cases where compliant agents have received a letter from the TPB informing them that they have overdue tax lodgment obligations.
The letters are part of the TPB’s debt and lodgment project for tax practitioners who have personal tax debts with no payment plans, and outstanding lodgments including their income tax and SMSF annual returns.
According to the TPB, around 5,000 tax practitioners have a personal tax debt of over $300, with no active payment plans, and 2,500 practitioners who have not lodged one or more of their personal income tax returns or for those of their associated entities.
The TPB have set a deadline of 31 January for agents to get their affairs in order before firmer action is applied.
“We’ve got a number of cases where the agent is fully compliant but they’ve received this letter and unfortunately the letter doesn’t tell them what was the matter that the ATO thinks is outstanding,” said Mr Addison.
“It would appear that some of the data that has generated the letters may not necessarily be up to date. People who have got payment plans in place or have lodged forms, or in fact those forms are not yet due for lodgment because of agent extensions – they haven’t been considered in the data extraction that’s generated these letters.
“We’ve had extensive discussions with the TPB and they are right on top of the fact and they are trying to check what data was used and will rectify the situation.”
Mr Addison has asked the board to provide assurances for agents caught up in the bungle, including for letters to include exactly what compliance obligations the agent has not met, and for the TPB to issue another letter once the matter is rectified and the agent is compliant.
“My message to agents at this time is to review your tax matters, lodge anything outstanding, get payment plans in place, and then write to the TPB by email, telling them what the situation is and that they consider themselves compliant because unfortunately they now need to get it in writing and on record that their tax obligations are up to date.”
Interim results released by the TPB this week have revealed that there are still 5 per cent of the 5,000 identified agents that have yet to make arrangements to settle their outstanding personal tax obligations.
The TPB will be evaluating the project in mid-2019 before designing the next phase of its longer-term strategy, including possible closer scrutiny of a practitioner’s own tax return.
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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.