- Online portal for recording and lodging personal tax returns to ATO
- Eliminates interview time and double data entry
- Pre-fill from ATO will reduce completion time to two minutes per return
UPDATE: Added release date and pricing
Software development company Impact Management Group, operator of the GovReports portal, has released into private beta a second portal for tax agents to speed up the processing of tax returns.
Once the Australian Taxation Office released the ability to pre-fill tax forms mid next year, the portal will complete personal tax returns in two minutes, the company claimed.
“Once we have the pre-fill from the ATO it will take two minutes to lodge a return”, said Tiana Tran, director of Impact Management Group. “You will be able to pre-fill 95 percent of the application.”
The GovReports iTax Portal, due in late November, was intended to replace the in-person interaction with an accountant and eliminate travel and interview time for the client and double data entry for the tax agent.
“If you want to do your tax return you see an accountant, he asks you questions and he enters the data into his system. Then he puts it into the tax software and lodges it,” Tran said.
With the iTax portal, a client can go online and add all their details directly. “I don’t need to see my accountant. When I submit my documents online my accountant can look at it and review it, and if he’s happy with it he can lodge it directly to the ATO,” Tran said.
The time savings were difficult to estimate and mostly related to eliminating the interview and accompanying administration. “A client needs to make an appointment, and sometimes the client doesn’t turn up. This way the clients can work at their own pace and so can the tax agent,” Tran said.
Reducing data entry would also bring savings to tax accountants, said Sam Ghebranious, chief operating officer of Impact Management. “Don’t underestimate the cost of data entry. A practice would do about 2,000 tax returns a year and employ four or five people in the background,” Ghebranious said.
“If I can reposition people and use resources somewhere else, as a tax agent I’d be looking at that all the time,” he added.
The iTax portal was only for personal tax returns and would not be expanded to company or other returns which often required more extensive advice from accountants.
Competing programs required double entry of data into a second program to lodge the return, Tran said.
“You go to Google and search tax return you’ll probably see quite a few there but it’s a two-step process. Once the taxpayer enters their details they would have to enter the data into another program to lodge it,” she said.
The iTax portal cost a $1,000 joining fee, an annual $75 licence fee and a $2-$3 lodgement fee calculated by volume. The portal was already in use with several tax agents for review. “We will have a look at the level of interest in the next couple of weeks and then determine the price. It will be much cheaper than what they’re paying for ELS desktop software at the moment,” Tran said.