The ANAO concluded that the relationship between the ATO and tax agents, which had been strained and tense at the time of the previous audit, had improved significantly.
The proportion of tax agents satisfied with the ATO’s services increased from 39% in 2003 to 70% in 2005. The level of dissatisfaction dropped from 38% to 14%. The ANAO notes that since 2003 there has been a consistent upward trend in levels of satisfaction with the quality of ATO staff assistance, the ease of access to ATO services and the value of the Tax Agent Portal.
In identifying scope for improvement in the ATO’s management of its relationship with tax practitioners, the ANAO found 4 key areas of administration that warranted further attention. These concerned:
1. the clarification of the role and functions of the Tax Agent Boards and the ATO;
2. scope for improvement in the performance of the Relationship Management function;
3. the ATO’s level of knowledge about the tax agent population and ability to analyse details of tax agents and their associated registrations; and
4. the ATO’s approach to various tax agent compliance matters, specifically:
- the adoption of a more strategic and corporate approach to the detection and management of serious integrity risks presented by a small proportion of practising tax agents;
- the detection and management of some additional risks associated with the structures and practices of some tax agents; and
- the potential for the ATO to address industry concerns about the incidence of unregistered tax return preparers.
ANAO made 6 recommendations in this regard.
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