ATO to switch off legacy tax agent portals after 17 years

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ATO to switch off legacy tax agent portals after 17 years

Reveals date after new portal becomes default.

The Australian Tax Office is preparing to switch off its old tax and BAS agent portals following a seven-month public beta for the replacement online portal, dubbed online services for agents.

But some functionality in the new tax agent portal, which the agency has been testing through beta releases for the last year-and-a-half, is still worse than the portals being switched off.

In an update to tax professionals last week, the agency said that with the transition period to the new tax agent portal now complete its existing portals would close at the end of the month.

“The portals have not been updated with new services for several months, and with major systems upgrades commencing shortly, the portals will soon no longer carry accurate information,” it said.

“Therefore, they will close at 11.30pm AEDT Friday 29 November 2019.”

Online services for agents became the default portal for agents to access ATO systems and clients record, as well as to communicate with the ATO on behalf of clients, in August.

Agents began shifting to the new portal in January as part of a public beta process that was expected to gradually open the platform to all agents over three months. It followed a year-long-private beta.

The new portal to access ATO systems and clients records was the ATO’s answer to long-held issues with the portal introduced in 2002, which tax agents labelled slow and unreliable.

But the public beta actually took seven-months to complete, with the process closing for BAS agents in May and tax agents in August.

The ATO said more than 70 percent of tax agents and 84 percent of BAS (business activity statement) agents have already transitioned to the online services for agents portal.

The ATO has urged the few remaining agents still using the old portals to become acquainted with Online services for agents.

This is despite the new portal lacking some functionality in the existing portal, which the ATO expects to rollout as a "priority" in the first half of next year.

“We acknowledge some functions in online services for agents are not yet the same or better than the tax and BAS agent portals,” the ATO said.

“As we work on this, we continue to welcome your feedback about how we can further improve the service.”

The new tax agent portal is one of the latest online government services that can now be used with the government’s new digital identity credential known as myGovID.

More than 80,000 people have now created digital identities using the myGovID solution since the solution quietly entered public beta in June. As at October 24, that figure stood at 46,000.

myGovID is expected to eventually replace the AUSkey authentication solution, which has been used by businesses to interact with government online for the decade, though this is not expected until March 2020.

The ATO recently began preparations for the migration to myGovID through the release of an AUSkey migration option to taxa agents that allows them to shift over to the new credential with ease.

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