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What tax agents need to know right now by CPA Australia


Promoted by CPA Australia.

This year’s tax time is now well under way, with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) having received almost 4.5 million individual tax returns at the end of July. More than half of these were lodged by self-preparers via myTax – a 34 per cent increase on the same time last year. Tax agent-prepared individual returns are also up by 6 per cent.

Promoted by CPA Australia 4 minute read

Tax agents will be well aware that this year’s lodgement period hasn’t been without challenges, with myGov issues early on, and many taxpayers seeking to lodge returns earlier than normal in order to access the low and middle income tax offset without complete pre-fill data.

The following is CPA Australia’s latest update of what tax agents need to know right now:

  1. the ATO reports that 98 per cent of Single Touch Payroll (STP) and payment summary records are now finalised and available in pre-fill.
  2. CPA Australia has come across examples of allowances and other information not being displayed on STP income statements, multiple income statements and payment summaries being lodged with the ATO by the same employer, and private health insurance pre-fill data that is insufficient to correctly calculate rebates. Tax agents may need to request further information from clients to ensure reported income and private health insurance claims are correct. 
  3. Agents can now access pre-fill reports for multiple clients at the same time within Online services for agents. A recent system update enables you to view or download prefill reports for up to five clients at a time in Reports and forms. Select the report format, either view in a browser or download in XML, CSV or HTML, then add each client using their identifier or name. Predictive search will be used if you type more than three characters. Agents that have used the improved functionality have told CPA Australia they like the predictive search, however having to view/print one report at a time is a minor bugbear.
  4. The ATO will soon start matching return information against the data it holds and issue automatically amended assessments where income has not been declared. This now includes data from sharing economy facilitators, cryptocurrency exchanges, building and construction businesses and online selling platforms. With so many taxpayers lodging before all pre-fill information was available, there may be a larger-than-usual number of automatically amended assessments.
  5. Taxable payments annual reports (TPAR) are due by Wednesday, 28 August with cleaners and couriers lodging their first TPAR this year. Online services for agents shows clients’ TPAR obligations and annual reports (including nil reports) can be done online.
  6. New labels have been added to the 2019 self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF) annual return, including whether Part A of the audit report was qualified and values of outstanding limited recourse borrowing arrangement amounts and cryptocurrency holdings.

In other breaking news…

  1. The Tax Practitioners Board has issued new guidance on letters of engagement – TPB (PN) 3/2019. While agents are very busy at the moment, when you have an opportunity, you should review the guidance and possibly update your engagement correspondence as necessary.
  2. If you or your clients with fewer than 20 employees know that you won’t be ready to start STP reporting before 30 September 2019, you can make a transitional deferral request to the ATO through the Portal or Online services for agents. As an agent, you can make bulk deferral requests.
  3. If you are assisting your clients with their STP set-up, take the time to ensure that the software is set up correctly to show allowances and other items separately. Agents are reminded that they will not be able to lodge STP reports through the Portal or Online services for agents.
  4. Tax agents should also be aware that from August 17, the ATO plans make Online services for agents the default system for tax agents when logging into ATO systems. The tax and BAS agent portals will, however, remain available, with the ATO still to decide when the portals will be decommissioned. While the functionality of Online services for agents is largely the same or better than the portal, agents will need to continue to use the Portal for deceased clients. 
  5. The ATO has updated its guidance on transfer balance account reports including when and how to lodge, as well as the details of the event-based reporting framework.

For more insights, view CPA Australia’s 6 timely tips to help tax agents do their job.


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