The Australian Taxation Office has progressed to the public beta for its long-awaited replacement online portal for tax agents, which it expects all tax agents to be using by April this year.
It comes just over a year since the agency kicked off the private beta for the new system that it has been building as part of its ATO Online platform of services.
Tax agents have long been calling for the tax office to address performance issues with the existing portal, which they have said is slow and unreliable.
The portal has been used by tax agents to access ATO systems and clients records, and to communicate with the ATO on behalf of clients, since 2002.
Last month chief information officer Ramez Katf told iTnews that work to replace the tax agent and intermediary portals with the ATO online services platform remained an immediate priority for the agency.
While it had been expected to be complete by the end of 2018, he said the production rollout of the system would be complete during the first quarter of the year.
At this point the private beta that began in December 2017 sat at 2000 tax agents.
But the agency has now revealed that although testing of the new system for securely accessing services online, dubbed online services for agents, is continuing, it has started to make it available in a public beta.
“The rollout will occur gradually from mid-January with all tax and BAS agents expected to have access by the end of March 2019,” the ATO said in an update this week.
“We will send an email to your practice to let you know when your practice has access to the new system, and provide instructions for what you need to do.”
But the tax office said it may also decide to stop the gradual production rollout, and instead, “provide all agent with access to the system before the end of March”.
“Once this occurs we will update the tax and BAS agent portal login pages with an option to access Online services for agents.”
The ATO has previously said the existing tax agent and BAS portals will remain in place until an agreed closure date.