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Taxation Institute of Australia calls for details on "Tax Cop" Policy

Publication date: 02 Nov 01 | Source: THE TAX INSTITUTE

President of the Taxation Institute of Australia, Ms Alice McCleary, is today calling on the Liberal Party to provide further details regarding the role of the Inspector General of Taxation and the impact the position will have on the current tax administrative structure.

Today's media reports of further cut backs in ATO staffing and closures of ATO Offices heightens the importance of any ATO "watchdog" role.

"There are many aspects of GST and tax reform that are not yet bedded down and will continue to absorb considerable resources," said Ms McCleary. "GST related ATO material continues to be released on a daily basis covering a huge range of operational problem areas. Numerous other tax reform issues are yet to be resolved requiring high level ATO input and public consultation."

It has been reported earlier this week that the Labor Party does not support the creation of an Inspector General. The Taxation Institute believes it is vital that the checks and balances on the tax system are clear and unambiguous. We are therefore urgently calling on the political parties to provide their detailed policies in relation to the structure of the administrative tax system.

The Government has not yet released details regarding the intended role of the Inspector General of Taxation and the Taxation Institute is uncertain what the Liberal Party's vision is for the newly announced role of a "super cop" overseeing the ATO.

"The Taxation Institute is appealing for more clarification of the role and function of the Inspector General of Taxation. What will it include? How will the role influence other areas in tax administration including the Commissioner of Taxation, the Board of Taxation and the Tax Ombudsman?" said Ms McCleary.

It has been proposed by the Liberal Government that the new Inspector General would provide better advice on how the taxation system works and deal with complaints, at a cost of $2 million a year.

Further clarification surrounding the role of Inspector General is required in the following areas:

  • What is the role and scope of the Inspector General's position?
  • What powers will the Inspector General be given?
  • If the Inspector General of Taxation is appointed, what will be the continuing role for the Special Advisor (Taxation) in the Ombudsman's Office?
  • In addition, will the ATO continue to fund positions within the Special Advisor's (Taxation) office?
  • Is the Inspector General going to have the authority to direct the ATO to implement the Inspector General's decisions?
  • How will the Inspector General's role overlap with the Board of Taxation?
  • Will the Inspector General's office simply become another bureaucracy for taxpayers to navigate?
  • How will taxpayers know which bureaucracy to approach with their particular problem?
  • Given the statutory independence of the ATO, the ATO could presumably ignore any recommendations of the Inspector General. How can taxpayers be confident that the Inspector General can actually solve their problems?
  • In addition to the request for all political parties to release their policy on the role of the Inspector General of Taxation and tax administration generally, the Taxation Institute is also calling for the allocation of sufficient funds for the ATO to properly administer tax reform.