The Institute of Public Accountants is currently weighing up an option to call on the ATO to apply blanket lodgement deferrals this year, after feedback from practitioners revealed that they are continuing to fall behind on lodgements following a frenetic year that saw the profession relied on heavily on the economic front lines.
“Realistically, we’re going to have to slow down,” said the IPA’s general manager of technical policy, Tony Greco. “We still have 2020 lodgements and we still have to prepare clients for a post-JobKeeper world.
“There’s a lot in the pipeline and we’re probably likely to ask for a lodgement extension, another blanket one.
“That’s the feeling I get that members are probably going to need another blanket extension, but we’re going to wait a little bit before we put our hand up.”
Blanket lodgement deferrals were a sore point for practitioners last year, with the professional accounting bodies unable to convince the ATO to defer due dates to the end of the financial year. The ATO, however, agreed not to apply late lodgement penalties and assured tax agents that they would not lose access to the lodgement program if they failed to meet their 85 per cent on-time requirement.
While practitioners will not have to contend with the rush to help clients access JobKeeper, the cash flow boost, and other state and territory stimulus measures this year, Mr Greco believes the government and the regulators should spare a thought for the profession before relaunching work programs that were put on ice last year.
Some developments being pushed through over the next 12 months include Single Touch Payroll Phase 2, recommendations from the Tax Practitioners Board review, and the incoming Director Identification Number regime.
“All the regulators want to hit the gas pedal, but we’re still dealing with 2020,” Mr Greco said.
“We asked practitioners how they were feeling and a lot of people said ‘tired’. [The stimulus measures] have been add-on work and we’ve been asked to do the heavy lifting and through that trust position we haven’t let clients down.
“We are tired and we can’t work at this pace without catching a bit of breath and looking after our mental health.
“We need to make the regulators understand that we’re still dealing with 2020, and as much as we want to say goodbye to it, it carries over.”