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ATO's shift to digital delivery of notifications leaves accountants out of the loop

Updated March 3 2020


The ATO is temporarily returning to paper-based notices to your accountant to ensure they are kept in the notification loop while a new platform is developed.

2020 was a challenging year for many of us and one of the major changes for the ATO is an increased reliance on digital technology to communicate and correspond with taxpayers.

One of the byproducts of increased use of email and online communication is an equally increased risk of fraudulent email and phishing spam, not to mention legitimate email landing in junk mail.

In early October 2020, the ATO introduced changes as to how it communicates with taxpayers by sending correspondence directly to the inboxes of users who have linked their MyGov account to their ATO account.  

They also appear to have automatically changed the general communications preference to digital notification delivery for any taxpayer who accessed their information or if their accountant logged in to the tax agent portal on their behalf for any reason. 

ATO notices to your ATO inbox don't automatically go to your accountant

With the change to digital only delivery, there are some less-than-obvious issues that have very likely impacted how your accountant can be proactive in keeping your business entity (or entities) up-to-date with lodgements and assessments. 

This change means that your accountant would have stopped receiving paper-based reminders that there were activity statements ready to download and they are not alerted via email that the preference change has occurred.

Unfortunately, there was no communication from the ATO to accountants to notify them of any change. 

The issue appears to be related to the link-up between MyGov and the ATO accounts, encouraging taxpayers to connect their accounts to receive notices of assessment and other tax notifications electronically. 

MyGov is the government's access portal for a range of services such as Medicare, CentreLink, Veterans Affairs, and the ATO, and is designed to be a single login point to

The types of ATO tax notices that are sent digitally include:

  • Notices, such as notices of assessment
  • Statements of account
  • Confirmation and reminder notices
  • Activity statements or instalment notices.

While this is convenient to the taxpayer, it does create headaches for tax agents and accountants if there are multiple companies or entities set up to manage tax affairs.

The first impact is that accountants rely on reminders and notifications to be proactive with clients. While accountants and tax agents have the ability to see notices and assessments within the Tax Agent Portal, there is often a substantial delay between the time it arrives in the ATO inbox versus the tax portal.

Accessing the information they need is also time intensive. For taxpayers with more complex arrangements such as multiple entities, your accountant can only retrieve notices by going into each individual entity to download or access tax notices.

 

This can cause substantial delays in addressing issues for the tax payer or reduce the ability of accountants to be proactive in managing client tax affairs.

How is the ATO addressing this problem?

Based on professional feedback on the impacts of the changes, the ATO has reversed its decision to stop issuing paper-based notifications and will issue notices from the June 2021 quarter while developing a new system for keeping accountants and tax agents informed.

How can you ensure you keep your accountant up to date in the meantime?

If you have linked your MyGov and ATO activities, please ensure that you are proactive in downloading and forwarding your ATO notices to Bates Cosgrave. You can easily save from within the ATO inbox in your MyGov account and share with us via email. 

Taxpayers receive email alerts or can opt to receive an SMS notification each time they get a new message via the ATO inbox linked to your MyGov account. Your preferences can be managed by logging into the MyGov account, selecting the 'Settings' icon and updating the 'Inbox Preferences' tab.

Alternatively, if you aren't self-managing your lodgements, the best way to ensure your accountant stays up to date is to return to paper-based notifications by delinking your MyGov and ATO accounts. This can be done by:  

  • Calling the ATO on 13 28 61 and ask them to remove the link between your accounts so that your notices are sent directly to your accountant. 
  • Logging into in to your MyGov account and delinking your ATO account. Before you do, ensure that your accountant is listed as the main address for correspondence so that we receive all future notices.

We may not be able to respond promptly to your tax matters if we don't receive these notices in a timely fashion. 

For more information, please contact your accountant on 02 9957 4033.

 

 

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Disclaimer

This article is provided for information purposes only and correct at the time of publication. It should not be used in place of advice from your accountant. Please contact us on 02 9957 4033 to discuss your specific circumstances.

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