ATO conciliatory over online outages

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The ATO said SMSFs affected by last year's outages would not be subjected to any penalties.

The ATO has announced it will not enforce any penalties SMSFs may have incurred due to the outage experienced by the regulator’s online services at the end of last year.

At last report, delays in processing auditor contravention reports (ACR) being lodged through the electronic super audit tool (eSAT) were continuing, with the ATO unable to process them via its internal systems.

Acknowledging this issue, the tax office conceded: “SMSF auditors who have experienced issues reporting a contravention via eSAT and have not been able to lodge ACRs within the specified 28-day time frame will not be subject to any further action assuming that the ACR is subsequently lodged.”

While online lodgement of SMSF annual returns experienced some interruption, the ATO confirmed the service was once again available.

Again the regulator has stipulated individuals who experienced difficulties with lodging or making payments as a result of the outages would not be subjected to any penalties, interest or follow-up action as long as the outstanding lodgements and payments were made by 10 January.

Apart from the statement regarding compliance action, the ATO also confirmed superannuants could once again apply to have an SMSF registered online, but admitted some rollovers into SMSFs from other superannuation accounts might not be possible as the automatic update process associated with the Super Fund Lookup facility was still unavailable.

Further, it said it was using a first-in, first-out process to prioritise and clear the backlog of registrations and associated updates to Super Fund Look Up and member verification services.

The outages to the regulator’s online services occurred in December last year.

In response to the systems failure, the commissioner of taxation announced there would be a review into the situation to ensure a similar incident could be avoided in the future.

The ATO also assured users the outage was not caused by any external cyberattack and no taxpayer information had been compromised as a result.

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