14 Nov 08 Phase out paper based returnsMEMBER 1 writes:
"The ATO consistently proclaims that it is committed to reducing the compliance burden on taxpayers. Considering the vast majority of tax returns in Australia are prepared by tax agents - this should translate to a reduction in tax agent work load.
With the potentially crippling capacity constraints our profession will face with the retirement of baby boomer tax agents, this can only be a good thing.
One option along these lines is in the form of a suggestion made to the National Tax Liaison Group to abolish individual returns. Certain professional groups are vehemently opposed to such moves, but a more moderate solution presents itself - a total phase out of paper based returns.
The phase out would decrease the amount of routine, high volume, lower margin compliance work tax agents have to work through. With our new found capacity, our industry can address the coming capacity constraint. Further, any additional capacity can be redirected towards servicing our clients properly with higher end, more profitable, rewarding work (for both us and the client).
The day is almost here where a simplistic individual taxpayer will be able to download all their tax information via etax, review and modify it themselves and lodge accordingly. If the taxpayer has a query with the downloaded data, then they can simply consult a tax agent. (Note in the year of the ALN and PBL restructures there may be more queries than normal.)
Plain and simply: Is the world going to get more or less digital? etax use has grown markedly since its introduction - and when was the last time you heard of a tax agent lodging an individual return on paper? It is already accounting industry best practice to maintain a (near) electronic office – it’s time for the ATO to follow suit."