The move comes after the ATO had stopped issuing paper instalment activity statements (IAS) for the December 2020 quarter, following the decommissioning of an old ATO system known as the Electronic Commerce Interface.
Tax practitioners were instead told to access these instalment notices through their PLS software or on online services for agents “three to four days after the activity statement generate date”, while self-lodgers can access the instalment notices through their myGov account.
Speaking to Accountants Daily, The Tax Institute’s senior advocate, Robyn Jacobson, said the decision to halt paper notifications has not sat well with practitioners, who often use the arrival of a paper IAS as a means of client engagement and a reminder to meet payment obligations.
Practitioners have also been concerned about the absence of a notification of an IAS being generated or issued and the inability for them to access a list of clients who have an IAS due for payment.
While agents can self-serve the information through a report which lets them know of upcoming obligations, they don’t get a notification.
“There hasn’t to date been any direct communication from the ATO to taxpayers or tax practitioners about the changes, so they’ve been a little unclear about what’s happening and why,” Ms Jacobson said.
“There needs to be a form of notification either when an activity statement is generated or shortly thereafter.
“The missing link at the moment is the failure to notify that those statements are there.”
Following feedback from the profession, the ATO has agreed to send out paper notifications until a digital solution can be implemented.
“They have confirmed that they will send out paper notifications for future quarterly instalments until they can implement a digital solution,” Ms Jacobson said.
“It won’t be a permanent arrangement because, in the long term, they don’t want to be sending out paper notifications, but they have recognised in the interim that there needs to be a process for people to be aware that they have an obligation due.”
Reminders for the December 2020 quarter will be sent out through an email to remind taxpayers that their PAYG instalment is due on 2 March.
“The objective at the moment is to ensure people meet their obligations for the December quarter and making sure we have a workable system moving forward until such time that the digital solution can be implemented,” she added.
“We have been working collaboratively with the ATO, and subsequently with the other professional bodies, to design a workable, practical solution as soon as possible. In the meantime, we welcome the interim solution.”
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.