It is anticipated that from next week onwards, around half of the current tax and BAS agent portal functions will be available for private beta participants.
The ATO is planning for remaining functions to be released in the beta environment in April 2018.
An initial group of approximately 50 tax and BAS agents have agreed to take part in the testing, charged with providing feedback before the service becomes publicly available.
On approach to tax time next year, this number will increase as feedback from the initial group has been incorporated into the new service.
“Early sentiment from the profession has been positive and we will be communicating more about the new online service for agents to all tax and BAS agents from early 2018,” a spokesperson for the ATO told Accountants Daily.
Parts of the portal have been in beta testing for some time, and the Institute of Public Accountants’ Tony Greco said feedback has so far been positive from tax professionals.
“It’s a modern version of the portal, it’s got a dashboard and a more modern feel, it’s not clunky or old fashioned,” Mr Greco told Accountants Daily.
Tax and BAS agents are “not asking for much” in terms of the portals — basic stability and reliability of services is the paramount concern.
“They will be happy to use the new services as long as stability is assured, that will keep a lot of the profession happy. Stability is not a lot to ask,” he said.
Assuming the ATO’s new timelines are met, the new portals will be delivered about a year after they were initially intended to, held up significantly because of the major December 2016 outages which were felt well into the early months of 2017.
The ATO’s portals have been plagued by instability and degraded performance since inception, and have resulted in significant productivity loss and frustration for the tax and BAS agent community.