As we advance to the journey back?16.12.2020
Are you going back to normal?
What was normal, anyway?
I just Googled “COVID normal”.
It’s one of those times where a modern phrase or term hasn’t been defined in a blog, website, or article to appear on a Google search. I thought it would.
I couldn’t get an organisation or an individual’s definition of “COVID normal” which is a pity because that leaves me to think about what this new normal could be, Google just let me down.
And who’s normal would I be defining?
At Your Business Angels in the course of our work, we deal a lot with the Australian Taxation Department so maybe I will think about what was and could be their new normal.
What is and what was the ATO normal?
Their current normal is giving large amounts of money away, as they were, and logically assigned to hand out the funds for the stimulus package.
As the Australian organisation, the ATO has its finger on “a” pulse of Australian Businesses. The engagements with the ATO “the Angels” have had, over the stimulus package has worked well.
Not always easy.
We have had a few fights on our hands, and we never stepped back from them, and occasionally we made up our minds about what the rules were saying. We achieved a lot for our tribe of businesses; I have to say, often with support from a member of the ATO stimulus team.
With daily changes to Jobkeeper, our experience has been and is if you can keep up with the changes in the Jobkeeper rules, you could (still can) work with the ATO.
Meanwhile, we have pushed on with compliance for our clients. BAS still needed to be lodged, tax returns completed, and plans have been made for now or in the future for our clients to deal with any difficulties that could be ahead.
Before “all this happened” the way we kept our fingers on the pulse of the Australian Taxation Office was through the mail, they sent out. We gauged how active they were and how long a client had before it got severe.
The letters would come and darken in colour and language.
There is the computer-generated mail which relates to sending out Running Balance Accounts, BAS notices Tax assessments and other general business and information.
Then there is what we call the coloured generated mail, the call for payments or making deals and when we received the first of these last week, we knew that we were heading back to Australian Taxation normal.
A client from Tasmania received a blue generated letter. It was asking for a payment or a discussion about a payment plan. The amount was small, enough for our client to be able to pay it with the change that may have fallen behind his couch – nevertheless, it is the first “coloured ATO letter” since February 2020.
We sometimes could see up to 100 of these coloured letters a week.
They are computer-generated.
In the past, there has been little logic to their order, who receives them or what amount triggers them; they serve a reminder that “action of some sort” should take place. We wonder in the new COVID normal with the ATO that will be the case.
Oddly enough, it was a sign that along with the daily counts we see in each state relating to COVID numbers dropping especially in Victoria, pleasing to see. Help us believe that things might be heading to normal, or at least ATO normal.
In the coming months, we expect to see these coloured letters for our clients with tax debts in all states but Victoria. For Victorian businesses, we expect to see them after May 2021.
These coloured letters for tax debt will again vary in colour and tone. They will be reminders that plans and actions now need to be made.
The Australian Taxation Office has made it clear that they will be coming back to collect with a softly, softly approach for a while and as my post that talked about future dates suggest, businesses still have a way to go before they face a critical crunch, but that will come all the same.
We are close to Christmas, a well-deserved break for everyone is in order.
Perhaps our advice is to focus for now on that. Getting to the end of this wretched year and having a great break.