ATO aiming for tax agent software integration

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is working with practice software providers to integrate data and functionality that will allow tax agents access to the services of its online portal through their own business software.

“We know that you use your practice management software – we understand that and we also understand there are many things that you can’t do in your software today that require you to go into the [ATO] portals to gather the information so we’re changing that,” ATO assistant commissioner digital service delivery Venetia Blackman told delegates at the recent Institute of Public Accountants 2016 National Congress in Melbourne.

“What we are doing is committing to build out the services that exist within our ATO online environment to build them out as services and make them available to the software developer for them to consume.”

The process of engaging software developers is beginning this month as the ATO releases a number of new services to these providers.

According to Blackman, the start date for the initiative is to give software developers a reasonable timeframe to assess their preferred focus of functionality and potentially establish this by 1 July 2017.

Blackman stressed not all functionality could be made available in December and that developers would not be able to incorporate all the functionality by the end of the financial year, meaning it would be an iterative process.

But from a practical standpoint, the ATO will release different services to the software community every two months.

“Really, what we’ll end up with in future I think is an environment that says everything you need to do with the ATO, or everything the ATO makes available, will be provided to the software development community for them to integrate,” Blackman said.

She pointed out that practitioners needed to communicate to their software providers the functionality they would like to see developed.

“They will find new and inventive ways to provide you with an experience that far exceeds the experience the ATO could provide,” she said.

The engagement with software developers is being implemented in conjunction to the ATO’s process of transitioning tax agents from using the agency’s existing portal to a new online facility.

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