Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, CPA Australia, the Institute of Public Accountants and the Tax Institute have now urged the Commissioner of Taxation to reconsider his earlier position on blanket deferrals as the coronavirus situation continues to rapidly evolve.
In choosing not to provide blanket deferrals, the Tax Office had considered the value of the real-time nature of the data collected from activity statements in order to inform government policy.
The ATO’s current stance is for tax agents to apply for deferrals on a case-by-case basis, but that has been derided as a burdensome and bureaucratic process that adds to the workload of tax professionals.
Instead, the joint bodies have now called for automatic deferrals for company, individual, trust and partnership 2019 income tax returns to 15 June 2020 and SMSF returns to 30 June 2020, as well as a 90-day waiver for all lodgement penalties for all compliance obligations.
The bodies have also requested for public advice that those who do not meet the “85 per cent on-time lodgement requirement” for the lodgement program framework during the COVID-19 period will not be negatively impacted.
“[The joint bodies] noted that the situation was evolving rapidly and that blanket deferrals, or some form of concession, would enable tax agents to be in control of their work program and allow them to service distressed clients, provide advice on access to the stimulus measures and prioritise activity statement lodgements for cash-flow boost recipients,” the joint bodies said.
“Other operating impacts from the COVID-19 crisis include productivity decreases due to remote working of staff and limitations on client contact, delays in obtaining information from clients as they deal with the COVID-19 crisis and significantly increased demand for advice and support outside of the ordinary advice and support required to meet their compliance obligations.
“We consider these deferrals, penalty waivers and assurance are necessary to support tax agents facing the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis at this critical time.”
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.