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‘Have a proper Christmas’: ATO advises on year-end system downtime


Practitioners have been urged to “have a good rest” over the ATO’s annual closure period, with a majority of the ATO’s systems set to be unavailable during its major system upgrade.

By Jotham Lian 12 minute read

The ATO is set to undertake its Activity Statement Financial Processing (ASFP) project during its annual closure period between 24 December 2019 and 2 January 2020.  

The major system upgrade will see more than 17 million activity statements and franking deficit tax accounts move into the accounting system currently used for income tax.

As such, the ATO has advised that all Standard Business Reporting (SBR) including the practitioner lodgement service will be offline until 2 January 2020.


ATO Online Services, including Online Services for Agents, will also be unavailable.

ATO assistant commissioner Colin Walker said the planned system shutdown was a good opportunity for practitioners to take a deserved break.

“For this year, can I please ask you all to go and have a proper Christmas and New Year. Just take the break. Don’t end up there on Christmas Day working in Online Services or lodging tax returns. We won’t be there. The system will be down,” said Mr Walker in a recent ATO webcast.

“Don’t worry about it if you havent been able to lodge on time before we close it down. Nothing is going to happen.

“Get onto it on 2 January when it is all back and you have had a good rest and are ready to start again.”

New improvements

According to the Tax Office, the ASFP project will provide a number of improvements to how activity statement and other account information is displayed in Online Services for Agents.

Tax agents will also be able to see pay-as-you-go (PAYG) withholding director penalty accounts against individual director tax file numbers.

There will also be an updated suite of payment letters that will provide clients with clear visibility of their debt position.

For Mr Walker, a big improvement will be the inclusion of concessional due dates in activity statement due dates, meaning tax agents and their clients will no longer need to add four weeks to the date on the activity statement to determine the actual lodgement date.

“From an agent perspective, for the first time, you will see the correct due dates. As you know, if the activity statement is electronically lodged, you get four weeks beyond the normal due date. In the past, agents have told us it is frustrating that the date that sits there until the lodgement is made is the legislative due date,” Mr Walker said.

“It often leads clients to get concerned that the return has not been done. It often leaves agents having to deal with that kind of issue with their clients, so we are correcting those dates.

“But, I suppose, sitting behind all of this, most of what we are going to do is move an enormous amount of account information. It’s going to take us close to a week to do that, which is why we have to turn the whole system off to do this major migration.”

Jotham Lian

Jotham Lian


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.

You can email Jotham at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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