While the tax and BAS agent portals are set to be decommissioned by March 2020, practitioners could be forced onto the new Online Services for Agents from as early as December 2019, when the ATO stops uploading data to the old portals.
The Tax Institute highlighted the transition issue facing practitioners in its submission to Treasury.
“It is our understanding that, while the old tax agent portal access will continue until the end of March 2020 (when the last of the current digital certificates expire), ATO data will cease to be uploaded to the old tax agent portal from the end of December 2019,” the Tax Institute said.
The decommissioning of the old portals will coincide with myGovID replacing AUSkey as the new authentication solution.
The Tax Institute’s submission comes as tax practitioners raise a concern about their inability to access information relating to deceased estates on Online Services for Agents, despite being currently able to access the relevant historical information through the existing tax agent portal.
Highlighting that approximately 160,000 deaths are registered each year, the Tax Institute believes it is vital that the ATO resolves the issue before the December deadline.
“While agents should retain access during the transition through to March 2020, the December 2019 change places more urgency on this issue,” said the Tax Institute.
“With such a significant number of deaths in Australia annually, which would equate to as many legal personal representatives (LPR) assuming the tax liabilities for the deceased estate, it is critical an LPR can access necessary tax information, be well informed and be represented by qualified tax professionals.”
Online services for agents take-up
According to ATO assistant commissioner Colin Walker, around 70 per cent of tax agents now use Online Services for Agents exclusively.
Of the remaining 30 per cent, a majority have tried the new service but have gone back to the old portal, with a minority have yet to access Online Services for Agents.
Mr Walker acknowledged that the new Online Services for Agents was still far from complete but urged practitioners to get on board to understand the new environment.
“We need to continue to enhance the Online Services to get them right; we haven’t done everything the feedback has given us so far, we’re still missing a few features that we want to get out,” Mr Walker said in a webcast last month.
“There are still a number of features in the old portal environment that we haven’t been able to put into Online Services yet. It’s just going to take us some time.
“You’ve told us that things are working well, so keep the feedback coming in, tell us what you like and you don’t like and we’ll continue to react to those, but it’s time to make that move.”