Software glitches extend tax deadline

Glitches in, and the lack of tax software are hampering accountants from meeting electronic taxation lodgement deadlines.

Accountants' group CPA Australia said software companies' failure to keep up with the Federal Government's late changes to income tax return rules has hit up to 40 per cent, or some 5000, of tax agents.

CPA Australia has called for an extension to deadlines as a result of the software issues.

Several software producers, including MYOB and Solution 6, have been slow in getting their Electronic Lodgement Service software packages such as the Income Tax Return software and Business Activity Statement (BAS) software to tax agents.

Garry Addison, senior tax consultant at CPA Australia, said some software producers have been too quick to roll out products that still have glitches and are a problem for agents to use because of the Government's redesign of BAS forms.

"The problem is twofold, either the software producer has not made the software available, or in some cases there have been outstanding glitches in the program. This has impacted on tax agents' ability to meet lodgement deadlines; the software was supposed to be available in June or July," Addison said.

He said MYOB was the worst hit and its customers may need a one-month extension, while others such as Solution 6 will need an additional 14 days.

Greg Johnson, chief executive for the professional services division of Solution 6, said the huge compliance changes in tax legislation, with such short notice, made the changes to the software expensive and a lot more hard work.

Johnson said there were about 4000 changes to the software that needed to be made in less than three months.

"There will be software glitches, particularly given the amount of change that went into this on such short notice," Johnson said.

Development costs have risen considerably as a result of changes to tax legislation. Johnson said it is now costing Solution 6 about 50 per cent more than it did three years ago, the year before GST came in.

The Australian Tax Office has granted a two-week extension for tax agents using software for lodging the BAS.

Addison said the delays have also hit agents' ability to lodge company superannuation returns.

The update for MYOB's BAS has been delayed and was expected to be released yesterday.

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Siobhan Chapman

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