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Thursday, 24 June 2010
Page: 6724

Mr Oakeshott asked the Treasurer, in writing, on 25 February 2010

Is the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) discontinuing the free program for small businesses known as e-Record; if so, (a) why, (b) how many e-record users will it affect, and (c) what will the ATO do to assist them with alternative tax reporting methods?

Mr Swan (Treasurer) —The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

The ATO is discontinuing e-Record from 1 July 2010.

(a)   Since March 2000, e-Record has been available to small businesses from the ATO for free. e-Record was designed as a product to help small businesses move from paper-based record keeping to commercial electronic record-keeping systems. The decision to discontinue e-Record followed a review recently undertaken by the ATO. The review found:

  • e-Record would have required redevelopment to keep up with changes in technology, including new operating systems and software
  • e-Record was not able to interact with the electronic services being developed as part of the Standard Business Reporting initiative, and
  • a lack of compatibility between e-Record and current commercial record-keeping systems.

(b)   The number of e-record registered users fluctuates with 48,700 users currently registered (registration is voluntary).

(c)   Small business taxpayers can meet their tax reporting obligations through a number of channels including the business portal and paper. There is also a range of free online tools available on the ATO website to support business such as self-help calculators and information products. Taxpayers will still be able to download the final version, e-Record v6.2, from the ATO website until 30 June 2010. User support will continue to be available until 30 September 2010. This will allow users to complete their reporting obligations for the 2009-10 financial year and allow time to transition to alternative record keeping systems. A comprehensive communication process has advised users of e-Record of the decision to withdraw the product and the support arrangements in place. In developing the communication plan, consultation was undertaken with a number of existing e-Record users to ensure that issues were identified and concerns addressed. As part of the ATO’s communication plan the ATO has recommended that taxpayers consider purchasing alternative commercial software by 30 June 2010. Information regarding available software has been made available on the ATO website.