ATO looks for new 'net, phone payment provider

The Australian Taxation Office is seeking tenderers for provision of telephone and Internet bill payment services, with the new contract scheduled to start in July next year.The service, presently being handled by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), enables taxpayers to pay their tax and child support bills by the telephone or the Internet.

The Australian Taxation Office is seeking tenderers for provision of telephone and Internet bill payment services, with the new contract scheduled to start in July next year.

The service, presently being handled by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), enables taxpayers to pay their tax and child support bills by the telephone or the Internet.

The ATO said the new services were being sought under the organisation's AU$312 million change program, adding that the Child Support Agency had indicated its intention to disengage its telephone and Internet bill payment services from the ATO's during the life of the new contract.

A spokesperson from the ATO said they were seeking the same functionality with only minor changes on pricing from new tenderers after the CBA contract ends at the end of this year. She added that under the CBA procurement guidelines, the ATO has to tender again once the contract is finished. However, she said, that the CBA can still tender again for the services.

In a request for proposal issued to the market, the ATO said services required would include receiving and processing payments electronically on behalf of the ATO, transferring data to the tax office daily via the ATO corporate external gateway, providing a help desk facility to tax office clients and staff and producing and delivering transaction reports. The services are required to be provided 24 x 7.

According to the ATO, combined telephone and Internet bill payment transactions for 2001/02 and 2002/03 reached 2 million and 2.9 million respectively. The volume of transactions for 2003/04 climbed to 3.9 million.

The proposed contract term is three years with the option of a further two extensions each of one year at the discretion of the ATO.

The ATO previously reported that more than 519,450 people have already lodged their tax return or Baby Bonus claim online using e-tax, an increase of more than 26 percent from this time last year.

Acting ATO commissioner Michael D'Ascenzo said the feedback from the community was that e-tax is simple, easy to use and convenient since it is available 24/7.

"This year we are increasing our focus on employers who fail to meet obligations such as pay as you go withholding, superannuation guarantee payments for their employees, and fringe benefits tax," he said.

D'Ascenzo said the ATO had received around 10,000 e-tax lodgements every day since 1 July this year.

The ATO has also announced new features on their Business Portal to make it easier to lodge an Activity Statement online.

Real-time processing means businesses can now receive instant confirmation when lodging an activity statement. They can also revise activity statements, update most business registration and financial institution details and view a range of accounts.

Online Access Manager is also another feature which allows business owners to decide what tax information their staff can access.

D'Ascenzo said more than 20,000 activity statements have already been lodged via the Business Portal since its launch earlier this year.

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