ATO to kill off e-Tax

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ATO to kill off e-Tax

Veteran software to be replaced by more modern myTax.

The Australian Tax Office will kill off its first experiment with online tax return lodgements, e-Tax, next year in favour of the more modern myTax service.

The e-Tax software was first introduced in 1999, compatible only with Microsoft's Windows operating system. The tax office had worked to offer a version for Apple's Mac OS since 2007, but it wasn't able to produce a stable version of the software until 2013.

For 15 years e-Tax - a digitised version of the paper tax return - was the only option for self-lodging individuals to lodge their tax return online.

However, the ATO last year revealed its new, more modern service for lodging online tax returns: myTax.

The cross-platform myTax prefills a person's return with information provided by their bank, employer, and government agencies, as well as from their previous tax return.

It tailors questions to the user's personal information - meaning, for example, a student would not need to view questions about the senior's tax offset.

At launch, myTax was only available for individuals with straightforward tax affairs. Those with complicated tax affairs were required to continue using e-Tax.

Additionally, the ATO partnered with the Department of Human Services to require those signing up to use myTax to simultaneously create an account with the Government's single sign-on portal for access to government services, myGov.

In a speech to the Tax Institute’s 30th national convention yesterday, ATO chief Chris Jordan revealed that e-Tax would be retired for tax time 2016 in favour of myTax.

"We are planning to have a single myTax product for all individuals, whether they have simple or complex affairs," Jordan said,

"All going smoothly by then, e-Tax, the veteran of almost 20 tax times and itself a pioneer of electronic lodgement, will be hanging up its e-boots."

Over the next 12 months, MyTax will be expanded beyond those with straightforward tax returns in a staggered manner to prepare for its new role as the sole online tax lodgment service.

For tax time 2015, around five million individuals will be made eligible to use myTax.

The first expansion to the service will include those with other income such as superannuation pensions, lump sum payments, managed investment funds and foreign pensions, as well as additional tax offsets and other associated deductions.

The ATO is also working to add additional functionality to its mobile application in order to allow users to record tax-related deductions throughout the year.

This 'on-the-go' functionality will allow users to "record, classify and upload" work-related deductions data direct to myTax ahead of the 2016 tax lodgement period.

"Which means the days of the shoebox full of old receipts are gone," Jordan said.

In November last year, the ATO said more than one million people had lodged tax returns through myTax.

The announcement of e-Tax's impending demise forms part of the tax office's new 'Reinventing the ATO Blueprint'.

The blueprint outlines six work streams aimed to deliver "systemic and sustainable change" to the way the ATO operates internally and delivers services to Australian citizens.

The streams include a focus on setting up the necessary equipment, systems, technologies, communications and software to allow easy digital interaction; smarter and faster use of data in order to generate "meaningful risk profiles'; partnerships with software providers; and tailored services based on a person's individuals details, among others.

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