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Tax office turns off e-tax and replaces it with free, faster system

Jun 10, 2016

E-TAX, the free online tax return system used by millions of taxpayers, has been shut down by the Australian Taxation Office.

The ATO will announce next week that it has retired e-tax and is replacing it with its simpler, internet-based sister myTax.

The move means that all of the three million Australians who do their own tax will have to use myTax, which was launched in 2014 as a free, fast and simple way to navigate tax time.

More than 25 million tax returns were filed using e-tax since it started in 1999 but ATO assistant commissioner Graham Whyte said it had become “quite old” and could only be downloaded as software onto a PC.

He said myTax could be accessed on a computer, smartphone or tablet, and had been expanded this year “to do everything e-tax could do and more”.

Property investors will be able to lodge using myTax for the first time, with help from new online tools to record depreciation and capital allowances.

“myTax makes it very easy to lodge your tax return yourself, particularly if you have got relatively simple affairs,” Mr Whyte said. The ATO estimates that five million of the 12.5 million people who lodge returns have relatively simple tax affairs.

Almost three-quarters of taxpayers use agents and accountants to do their tax, typically paying between $300 and $400.

Much of the work to produce tax returns has become automated in recent years, with ATO systems pre-filling people’s returns with details such as wages, bank interest, share dividends and private health insurance information. Taxpayers often only need to acknowledge that it is correct.

While myTax can be accessed through the government’s my.gov.au portal or ato.gov.au website, Deakin University department of accounting senior lecturer Adrian Raftery said he did not expect a big jump in people wanting to do their own tax.

“There will definitely be a natural increase as more of society are becoming more comfortable with doing their affairs online,” Dr Raftery said. “People with complex tax issues will still seek the advice of the experienced tax adviser.

“The biggest issue for me is the timeliness of third-party information such as interest, dividends, managed funds and private health data that gets downloaded.

“In the past this can take four to five months. If the Government are serious about myTax truly working well, then they need to improve the availability of this information being imported directly into the online tax return.”

Mr Whyte said the ATO was working closely with banks, employers and other data providers and hoped to get all pre-filled data earlier this year, by the end of July.

“What we are saying to those who are a bit unsure about myTax is to give it a go — you’ll probably have your tax return lodged in a fraction of the time,” he said.

Original article published here in the Gold Coast Bulletin on 10 June 2016.

 

 

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