Speaking on the ATO tax professionals webcast on Thursday, ATO assistant commissioner Sylvia Gallagher revealed that tax agents would not lose access to the lodgement program if they failed to meet the 85 per cent on-time benchmark for the 2020–21 lodgement year.
The 85 per cent on-time lodgement requirement is a performance benchmark that tax agents are expected to meet, with access to the lodgement program revoked if practitioners repeatedly post poor lodgement results.
“We know the stress it provides and it is not the intent of the program,” Ms Gallagher said.
“This year, we’re not looking at the 85 per cent lodgement, so please don’t worry about it this year. It does not impact any lodgement.”
The concession comes as tax practitioners continue to fall behind on lodgements in a year marked by COVID-19. A similar assurance was provided last year at the height of the pandemic.
The Tax Office, however, has continued to resist calls for a blanket deferral, and has instead offered to support practitioners through a dedicated phone line linked to the tax agent lodgement program fast key code.
The lodgement program framework, first introduced in 2013 after the profession agreed that the 85 per cent on-time requirement was a reasonable benchmark to meet, will also now be reviewed by the ATO.
“The team is trying to understand what works and what does not, and we will consult with the community, working with the Tax Practitioners Stewardship Group, and setting up a working group to look at the entire lodgement program — what works, what does not,” Ms Gallagher said.
“We are looking at it and will come back when we have more information.
“Any suggestions for what might be improved, please let us know, because it is on my list and we have resources allocated to it.”