The ATO are about to help us Tax Practitioners out big time.
Much like Superman, their computer system continues to be used for community good deeds.
According to the ATO, us tax heads will now get notified by email about clients who are not meeting overdue lodgement obligations. The tax office will refer to an external collection agency if they do not lodge.
This is a brilliant move by the ATO to chase down these super-tax-procrastinators and give us a hand reining them in.
A couple of years ago, the ATO were threatening us poor little tax agents that they would put the squeeze on us if our clients didn’t lodge. Finally they’ve got the message that we try as hard as we can, but unless they have a massive stick (an ATO addressed letter) the clients will just procrastinate.
While we’re on the topic of super-tax-procrastinators, I must tell you the ultimate story in this space. I had a client who had not lodged for 7 years and despite a number of letters and efforts, nothing happened. In the end, the ATO took my client to court. We tried extremely hard to keep him out of court and negotiate with the ATO, but they refused. He went to court with a specialised lawyer, got a slap on the wrist and some big penalties, and since then he has been far better at delivering his tax work for us to do. This client had to go to Court to smarten up.
It would have been far better if he got debt collection notices from the ATO instead.
At the end of November, the ATO have said that they’ll commence sending letters directly to clients’ nominated address. An example of the letter will also be sent to tax agents.
“This letter will ask clients to seek your help to get their obligations up to date or contact us. If they take no action, we will refer their obligations to an external collection agency,” said the ATO.
“The pilot programs run on reining these procrastinators in have demonstrated that the actioning of lower risk, lower complexity, outstanding lodgement and payment cases by an external collection agency is a viable, effective and efficient option to complement ATO strategies,” the ATO stated.
My message to the ATO: YFB (no, I’m not going to elongate this… you can work it out for yourself) because this will rein the clients in and improve our lodgement on time list that they so dearly break our precious things over