ATO announces new lodgment support. On Friday 20th August, 2021, the ATO deputy commissioner Hoa Wood published an open letter to tax agents across the country announcing that practitioners would soon be able to request a deferral for a small number of clients from September onwards.

“If you need some extra time to lodge a small number of client obligations, from September, you will be able to call us to request extra time to lodge for up to five clients,” said ATO deputy commissioner Hoa Wood.

ATO Announces New Lodgment Support For Tax Agents

The announcement proceeds the ATO’s decision to offer similar support for tax agents who were struggling with their lodgment deadlines in May.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to put pressure on tax agents, the ATO and agent-assessed deferrals will also continue to be on offer, that’s why ATO announces new lodgment support for tax agents.

“We understand that COVID-19 continues to put pressure on you, your practice, and your clients. Personalized support is available to all tax professionals whenever you need it. Our supported lodgment program is available for when you have been affected by issues such as ill-health, the loss of a key staff member, COVID-19, or if you are generally overwhelmed. With your help, we can co-design a lodgment plan to help get your lodgment program back on track for your entire practice,” said Ms. Wood.

“I’d like to thank you for all your hard work in assisting your clients to navigate the difficulties that continue to affect so many. The support you have provided, while facing your own obstacles, has not gone unnoticed,” said Ms. Wood.

The ATO’s lodgment support has come following a huge increase in workloads for tax agents as a result of the introduction of COVID-19 support measures from state governments which rely heavily on the accountant’s expertise to be understood.

The stress caused by the pandemic and ongoing lockdown restrictions has resulted in practitioners demanding a review of the 85 percent on-time lodgment requirement.

Accountants Are Concerned About The Mental Health Of Their Clients

Accountants across Australia have admitted that they are concerned for their business clients, with inquiries about financial distress being made more frequently over the past month.

According to a recently published survey, just under 50 percent of accountants are either “fairly” or “extremely” worried about the state of the economy, with accountants in areas that are currently experiencing lockdowns generally more concerned.

The survey conducted by CPA also illustrates the many challenges associated with implementing different business support programs on a state-by-state or territory basis.

The survey was conducted between the 9th and 15th August capturing the views of nearly 200 CPA Australia members working in accounting practices and Australian businesses.

Although close to 60 percent of the surveyed accountants are pretty confident in the state of business performance over the next three to six months. The majority report that many of their business clients are currently experiencing high to very high levels of financial distress.

Nearly 54 percent expect their business clients to find it “difficult” or “very difficult” to pay debts over the next three months.

Furthermore, over 46 percent of surveyed accountants said inquiries they have received regarding financial distress have increased in the past month. Even in non-lockdown areas, nearly 38 percent of surveyed accountants report an increase in these inquiries.