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Update – ATO Electronic Correspondence and Communication Preferences

You may have caught our article a few months ago regarding the moves the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is making in shifting their correspondence to business owners from paper-based “snail mail” to electronic formats. As the roll-out and wider adoption of these changes continues, we are seeing a few instances where information isn’t reaching the right people at the right time, so it’s timely to review the changeover to electronic communication, your correspondence preferences and options, and reaffirm what needs to happen moving forward.

Recapping the ATO Electronic Correspondence Shift

The added emphasis on sending correspondence to business owners in an electronic format is welcome from an environmental and efficiency point of view, however an increased level of attention from clients (you) is required on platforms such as MyGov and the ATO’s Online Services.

Many clients have already made the switch and embraced the changes which is excellent. For those who are yet to make the change, it is important to understand that given the importance of the compliance work we carry out for clients, the changeover to electronic correspondence needs to be embraced by all parties.

Understanding your ATO Communication Preference Options

As a business owner, you have a few options for communication preferences that you’ll find on the ATO’s Online Services for Business platform. You can choose to have all communications sent to you, all to your registered agent (e.g. McKinley Plowman) or some sent to you and some to your agent.

We are very much aware of the fact that many business owners are time-poor, and logging in to check your MyGov inbox and forwarding documents and notifications to your tax agent is probably not at the top of your list of priorities. To this end, we would strongly suggest you nominate your tax agent as the recipient of all communications from the ATO so that nothing is missed.

If you have a MyGov account linked to the ATO, you can view your communication preferences in MyGov. Just log into your account, and navigate to ATO > My profile > Communication > Preferences. In order to change your communication preferences on your behalf, your registered tax and/or BAS agent will need your written permission and a declaration that the information you have provided is true and correct. You and your agent should keep a copy of this declaration. More details on correspondence preferences can be found on the ATO’s website here.

ATO Correspondence that can be Sent Electronically

Currently, the ATO can send you or your agent electronic communications relating to the following six categories:

  1. Income tax (e.g. notices of assessment, PAYG instalments, penalty notifications, statements of account)
  2. Activity statement (e.g. lodgement notices, penalty payments, registration confirmations and cancellations)
  3. Study & training support loans (e.g. notice of overseas levy, statements of account)
  4. Superannuation (e.g. statements of account, SG overpayment advice)
  5. Debt (e.g. payment plan confirmation, payment warnings, default and arrears plan)
  6. Employer and business obligations (e.g. TPAR overdue lodgement notices, notices of assessment, SG additional payment notifications, SG shortfall notifications)

Correspondence that falls outside of these categories and cannot be sent electronically will be delivered to whichever postal address you have on record with the ATO. There is planned expansion in terms of the scope and breadth of communication that can be sent electronically.

Note that the ATO Business Portal has been phased out, with Online Services for Business up and running in its place. Ideally, this will assist with better integrating the ATO’s other online services, and building on the functions and features of the old Business Portal.

ATO Communication Preferences & Electronic Correspondence – Next Steps

It is advisable that you check your MyGov inbox at least once per quarter, but certainly more often if you receive a notification via email or SMS that there is a new message in your MyGov inbox. This is especially important if you set your communication preferences to all electronic correspondence coming to you rather than your tax agent. The simplest way around this is to set your preferences to send all correspondence to your agent. If you are our client, we will still have access to your information via our Online Services for Agents and we will do our best to communicate your obligations when they fall due, however some initiative on your behalf should cover off any potential gaps and ensure your business’ obligations are met on time. We’d suggest adding a calendar reminder every 3 months to be safe to give you the prompt to check.

If you’re ready to update your correspondence preferences to us as your tax agent, or have any concerns or questions about the transition in general, please reach out to us today via our website, or call us on 08 9301 2200 (Joondalup) or 08 9361 3300 (Victoria Park).

written by:

Ben’s career began in April 2008 specialising in taxation and business advisory by managing a small portfolio at a young age. He joined McKinley Plowman in 2014 as a Senior Accountant and with his passion for business and assisting clients in achieving their objectives he has progressed to a Business Services Manager, and more recently being appointed as an Associate Director.

As a qualified Certified Practising Accountant, his areas of expertise include but are not limited to, assisting clients with new business start-ups, advising on business structures, tax planning, business valuations and management reporting across many industries.

Ben prides himself on being part of his client’s business journey in taking them from where they are now and working towards where they want to be.

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