The introduction of Single Touch Payroll will see employers exempt from providing end-of-year payment summaries to their employees.
Instead, payment summary information will now be called an “income statement”, and can be accessed through their myGov account or their tax agent.
The ATO is anticipating a surge in myGov sign-ups in light of the changes, potentially reigniting issues over the visibility of client communication from the Tax Office.
“Currently, we have about 3.7 million clients of agents who have myGov accounts, and as agents would know, that means that much of their communications from the ATO goes through into a myGov inbox,” said ATO assistant commissioner Colin Walker.
“With STP, there is quite a strong probability that further numbers of clients will actually link to myGov, go into the ATO, to have a look at their statements, and also to have a look at their superannuation information.”
He added: “For now, it is really important that agents become much more robust around how they use the client communication list. That is how they are going to be able to see communications, particularly things such as notice of assessment, debt notices, things related to their income.
“So, a warning for this year until we get a preferencing solution in place: you need to make sure you watch the client communication list, or you are likely to miss communications. We do know that only a small portion of clients who actually have myGov inboxes look at those inboxes, so the opportunity to miss something is very high.
“So, I’d encourage people, use that client communication list, be aware, new clients or old clients, who were never in the myGov world, may well go there this year.”
The imminent solution
Mr Walker also sought to reassure agents that a workaround to the myGov communication issue was well on its way, with “preferencing” set to debut in the third quarter of this year.
“Preferencing” will essentially allow individuals with myGov accounts decide which classes of information will go to the myGov inbox or to the agent, with both to still have visibility of the notification.
“In the new online services environment, there is a new inbox, it sits on the front page of online services, and where the agent is preferenced, that is where those communications will go. That solution will occur around about October, November this year. Not certain on the date yet, but it is coming close. Unfortunately, in the gap between now and that time, we won’t be able to change those preferences,” Mr Walker said.
“The big thing about preferencing is that we’re going to have a situation where you will need authority from the client to change the preference back to you, for us to undo the myGov inbox, essentially. We’ll provide a lot more information about that over the next month or two, including what you need to do.
“It’s something that you need to start to think about, because you’re going to need to talk to your clients about it.”
Accountants Daily understands the Tax Office will be delivering the new functionality over three phases, with the first phase targeting individual clients, the second for business clients and the third aimed towards removing all paper communication.
It is understood that the ATO has scoped out between 18 and 24 months for the project.
Jotham Lian is the news 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.