GST pressures Tax Office systems

Your business isn't the only one struggling to meet the July 1 Tax Reform deadline. Australian Taxation Office (ATO) itself joins the list of organisations feeling the pinch with its largest ever systems changeover.

From standard income tax processing changes to complex interface changes between legacy systems and the new e-commerce face of the agency, more than 4000 program changes have been made to ATO's computer systems.

And expect disruptions to normal services, warned Paul Madden, assistant commissioner at ATO.

"The changes will affect income tax return processing," Madden said.

And while the ATO doesn't expect to be processing next year's until past July 1, Madden confirmed that workloads will start increasing during the second week of July.

"Staff will also not be able to access specific account details," Madden added.

And 13,000 agents are warned to expect at least one gateway to the Electronic Lodgement System to be down, while ATO upgrades its four gateways on a rolling basis.

ATO has introduced integrated payments to its accounting system for businesses that wish to combine payments of income tax, withholding tax and fringe benefits tax as well as GST reporting.

The agency has also integrated its electronic commerce interface (ECI) framework between legacy systems and e-business transactions, and added public key infrastructure (PKI) using the government's Gatekeeper Policy.

Other changes to its systems include imaging facilities for data capture of return forms, correspondence and business activity statements as well as introducing system support for call centre operators.

At this stage more than one third of Australian businesses have successfully implemented changes to IT systems to cope with the impending tax reform.

The ATO has included resources on their Web site to help businesses meet compliancy. Specifications can be downloaded from the site to build GST compliancy into in-house systems. Test scenarios are also available to test self-compliance.

For businesses with turnovers of more than $20 million and a tax burden of $1 million, it will be mandatory to transact with Australian Taxation Office (ATO) electronically following July 1. www.ato.gov.au/rtfOther resources:www.taxreform.ato.gov.auwww.gststartup.gov.au

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