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ATO Move to Electronic Communication

Article By Adam Hurwood | | Accounting & Tax
In an ever evolving environment, technology and the way it is used is continually changing and advancing. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has started moving their communications and interactions with taxpayers away from paper correspondence and towards other methods, such as email and mobile phone (via SMS), for updates and notifications.

The ATO have also changed the way they issue Activity Statements. As of 1 July 2014, once an activity statement is lodged through an electronic channel, the ATO will no longer issue paper activity statements.

Safety First

In the past, the use of electronic communication has been optional and until now, Altitude Financial Group has elected to receive client ATO correspondence by post. With the ATO advising they will be moving away from paper correspondence in the years to come, it means taxpayers may start to see electronic communications directly from the ATO and knowing what is legitimately from the ATO can be difficult.

Our top tip for dealing with electronic correspondence is:
• Do not click on any email links or provide any personal information through a reply to the correspondence. Instead, contact the ATO using your secure business portal login, call the ATO via a contact number on their official website, or contact our office to assist you.
Some examples of scam activity that you should be wary of in all electronic communications are:
• The ATO will never ask you to provide your personal or financial information, such as your date of birth, address, credit card details, or PIN, via SMS or email.
• Communication from the ATO will never include an attachment for you to open. Opening one could cause you to download spyware or a virus/malware.
• Check any links that are embedded in your email by hovering your mouse over the link rather than clicking on it, and looking at the URL that pops up either as a tooltip (Mail clients such as Outlook) or in the bottom bar of the browser (when using Webmail such as Gmail). The ATO advise that if the address looks suspicious and does not reside on their domain, do not click on it.
• Any SMS or email that requests additional information before a refund can be released is a hoax.
The ATO provides a list of all of their SMS and email communication. This list will enable you to check if the communication you have received is in line with what has been set out by the ATO. You can find this list here.

Electronic Activity Statements

For those clients who receive and lodge the Activity Statement themselves
If you are still using the paper form to lodge an activity statement with the ATO, nothing will change and you will continue to receive these paper activity statements in the mail.

If however the Business Portal is used for lodgement of the activity statements, no further paper forms will be issued to you. Instead, a notification will be sent by the ATO to the email address linked to the activity statement account, approximately seven days after the activity statement generation date.

If the email address is not recorded or is incorrect, the ATO will still attempt to send this email notification to inform you of the activity statement. Therefore, we recommend you confirm your email address on the ATO business portal to ensure you receive these email notifications.

For those clients where Altitude receive and lodge the Activity Statement on your behalf
As Altitude Financial Group utilises electronic lodgement for all clients where we perform the lodgement of the activity statement, no further paper forms will be issued for these clients. This means we will no longer be able to use these paper forms to inform you of your lodgement obligations.

An email notification will be sent to our office approximately seven days after the activity statement generation date. Where appropriate, we will be updating this to your email address for you to receive this notification. Once this notification is received you will then be able to forward your information through to us for completion of the activity statement.

Where clients prefer the notification to come directly to Altitude, we will contact you to inform you of the lodgement date and arrange collection of the necessary information to complete the lodgement, as is the current process.

For further information with regards to the changes please visit the ATO website below or contact us to discuss how this affects you. We will be more than happy to assist in this transition.

ATO Secure Business Portal

For those clients who wish to lodge an activity statement themselves, you will need first need to register for what is called an AUSkey. AUSkey is a secure login that identifies you when you are using government online services on behalf of a business. There is information on the ABR website as to how to do this.

This site will help explain in more detail what an AUSkey is and how you can register for one. Once you are registered and have received your unique AUSkey you will be able to use the ATO Business Portal.

If at any time you require further assistance in regards to correspondence from the ATO or the changes being made, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are only too happy to assist.