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The Australian Tax Office (ATO) has announced it will automatically remit or refund any penalties for late lodgments associated with its most recent IT outage on 5 July, coinciding with the peak tax return season and the start of ‘Tax Time’.

The ATO has been severely embarrassed by the outage which came on the same day as a major address by Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan to publicise the start of the tax return season.

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) has announced details of its 2017-18 BAS Agent lodgment program including lodgment and payment concessions when eligible quarterly business activity statements are lodged electronically, and a lodgment concession for PAYG.

The value of Commonwealth penalty units for offences and charges covered by Commonwealth penalty units has increased from 1 July 2017.

From 1 July 2017, a Commonwealth penalty unit will increase from $180 to $210.

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) has changed validation procedures in the Practitioner Lodgement Service.
The ATO said that “A significant change from the electronic lodgment service (ELS) validation process is that you no longer need a validation number. This is because lodgments made through the PLS are updated on the client record in the portal almost immediately. This lets you check the status of the lodgment on the same day.”

The Government has confirmed that it will remove double taxation of digital currency – a move which was foreshadowed in the May Budget.

The change will have effect from 1 July 2017 although legislation implementing the change is yet to pass parliament.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has released a discussion paper outlining a number of proposals which he said are aimed at strengthening governance arrangements for deductible gift recipient (DGR) organisations.

The Australian Financial Review reported that the review was likely to target environmental groups. It said, “Rekindling an old row between mining companies and green groups, the paper seeks feedback on whether environmental charities should be required to spend at least 25 per cent, and possibly as much as 50 per cent, of donated money on on-the-ground remediation, such as tree planting. This would effectively cap the amount of money available for advocacy.

Treasury has launched another phase of consultation on reform of the Petroleum Resource Rent Tax (PRRT) at the request of the Government.

Treasury said that on 30 June 2017, Treasurer Scott Morrison announced the Government’s interim response to the Review of the PRRT undertaken by former Treasury economist Michael Callaghan.

Treasurer Scott Morrison says credit card providers will be forced to scrap unfair and predatory practices within the year under reforms to be introduced by the Federal Government.

“It is vital that we protect vulnerable Australians from predatory behaviour which seeks to make a quick buck from people’s misfortune, and compound their financial hardship,” Mr Morrison said.

The Australian Government has raised the stakes in its efforts to combat cybercrime, announcing that it will authorise offensive, as well as defensive, action against cyber attacks.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said “Given the growing cost of cybercrime to the Australian economy, the Government has directed the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) to use its offensive cyber capabilities to disrupt, degrade, deny and deter organised offshore cyber criminals. “The use of this capability, which is currently used to help target, disrupt and defeat terrorist organisations such as Daesh, is subject to stringent legal oversight and consistent with our obligations under international law.

Legislation making detailed administrative changes to a number of superannuation reforms announced in the 2016 Budget, including the limit of $1.6 million on the balance transferred to the tax-free pension phase of all superannuation accounts, has passed Parliament.

The Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said amendments supporting the integrity of the Government’s suite of superannuation taxation reforms have come into effect with the passage by Parliament of the Treasury Laws Amendment (2017 Measures No. 2) Bill.

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