Not only did they have to grapple with assessing which government support was best to assist individuals and businesses, but many of them were themselves going through tough times, and overburdened with excess workload.
In light of this, and as tax time draws near, the ATO is speaking out to offer a timely message of support for tax professionals, and their clients, to let them know of the extra support at hand, after an unprecedent year of struggle.
ATO deputy commissioner, individuals and intermediaries, Hoa Wood said there is a range of support to help get life back to normal, starting with deferred lodgement times.
“If you need help and support to lodge for specific clients, you can request a deferral. Lodgement deferrals extend the due date for lodgement of a document by providing additional time to lodge without incurring a failure to lodge on time (FTL) penalty,” Ms Wood said.
Some clients may only need a little extra time.
Ms Wood explained that tax agents can assist by providing taxpayers with an additional four weeks to lodge annual obligations, three weeks to lodge quarterly obligations, and two weeks to lodge monthly obligations.
All the details and information about lodgement deferrals is available at ato.gov.au/deferrals.
“If your request does not meet the criteria for an agent-assessed deferral, you can apply for an ATO-assessed deferral or deferral for new or re-engaged client with overdue returns,” Ms Wood said.
But what if a whole business has been affected? Ms Wood said there’s also a program for these types of circumstances.
She said: “If your whole practice has been affected by issues such as ill health, the loss of a key staff member, COVID-19, or you are generally overwhelmed, we can work with you to co-design a supported lodgement program that helps get your lodgement program back on track.
“This program is designed to help agents and practices of all sizes when you need additional time to lodge a large proportion of your clients’ obligations, and are unable to lodge a normal deferral request. We’ll co-design a lodgement plan that helps get your lodgement program back on track.”
Ms Wood has encouraged anyone that needs help and support to reach out to the ATO as early as possible to help provide the support they need.
More information on the supported lodgement program is available at ato.gov.au/lodgmentprogramhelp.