The government has announced the start of its Standard Business Reporting (SBR) program, which allows businesses and reporting professionals such as accountants, bookkeepers and tax agents to lodge government forms electronically.
"From today businesses and reporting professionals using SBR-enabled software will be able to pre-fill and complete government forms directly from their own accounting system and lodge electronically to participating government agencies using the single secure sign-on AUSkey," Financial Services Minister Chris Bowen said in a statement.
The software allows businesses to spend less time working on reporting, and is expected to save them $800 million annually once fully up and running, according to Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner. Businesses will also receive real-time receipts detailing their interaction with the government.
The reports supported by the statement include Business Activity Statements, Tax File Number Declarations, PAYG payment summaries, payroll tax returns and financial statements.
IBM was awarded $26.6 million in contracts to design and develop core IT systems for the SBR initiative. IBM also will provide ongoing support for the system under a 12-month contract worth an additional $2.7 million, signed in May 2010.
Transactions are secured via AUSkey, an online security credential developed for Standard Business Reporting, which will be a single key to access online government services. The new credential was put into action in April.
"In just over five weeks over 51,000 AUSkeys have been issued, to over 36,000 Australian businesses. AUSkey is positioned to be the single key to access government online services," Bowen said.