On 1 February 2018, PLS became the only electronic channel to lodge company tax returns, following a staggered implementation since 1 April 2017 that saw fringe benefits tax returns, partnership returns, SMSF annual returns, fund income tax returns and trust tax returns move over to the PLS.
Individual tax returns will need to be lodged using the PLS from 1 April 2018, as the ATO seeks to phase out the electronic lodgement system (ELS).
Speaking to Accountants Daily, Thomson Reuters senior tax writer Terry Hayes said he’s been made aware of early hiccups in the tax professionals community.
“For a lot of accountants and tax practitioners, at a basic tax administration level, the ATO’s new practitioner lodgement service is going to be a big one for this year,” Mr Hayes said.
“It’s meant to be operating real smoothly. The tax office has certainly done a lot of back-office and backend work to get this PLS running, but I know from what I heard, there were some criticisms of it last year that it wasn’t really working effectively. But I do know the tax office has put a lot of time into making sure they get it right and they certainly talk to tax agents about it.
“I suppose common sense and logic always suggests there are always teething problems.”
Mr Hayes believes it will be a waiting game to see how the transition pans out, and he is confident the ATO will afford practitioners time to deal with related hurdles.
“No doubt the tax office will be keen to make sure they get it worked out before it becomes fully operational, but I guess we have to wait and see on that one,” Mr Hayes added.
“The tax office is certainly talking to tax practitioners about it and trying to bed it in smoothly and efficiently, so we’ll soon find out.”
The tax office said it understands the transition “may result in unexpected issues that could affect your ability to lodge client forms on time”.
“We’ll communicate and work with you to ensure you are not unfairly penalised if circumstances outside of your control prevent you from lodging. This may include providing deferrals or remission of penalties that were automatically imposed,” the ATO said on its website.
“If PLS system issues prevent you from lodging client forms on time, you can request a PLS deferral. This assistance is available where the issues occur within 48 hours of a lodgement due date,” the ATO said.
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.