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TIA Insight Overlooked

Publication date: 30 Aug 01 | Source: THE TAX INSTITUTE

The Commissioner's announcement this week of significant staff reductions - 1,000 temporary and 1,310 permanent positions across Australia – despite continuing major administrative difficulties in the ATO, questions whether the ATO has been properly funded for tax reform.

The Taxation Institute agrees that early GST education and training work of the ATO is coming to an end, but there are many other aspects of GST and tax reform that are not yet bedded down and will continue to absorb considerable resources for years to come. With the Running Balance Account System still in disarray, BAS and IAS procedures still changing and over 150 Tax Acts (introduced over the last 2 years) still needing interpretation, this is the wrong time to be removing some of the ATO’s most experienced staff.

GST rulings and determinations are continuing to be released almost daily, 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 to ensure they are workable and practical. Will the ATO retain sufficient experienced staff to undertake the enormous workloads still required to bed down tax reform?

Tax practitioners and taxpayers continue to report considerable difficulties in accessing ATO staff to answer basic queries. The ATO is also having difficulties processing income tax returns, BASs, and IASs.

The Taxation Institute's President, Ms Alice McCleary, urges the Government to reconsider its Budget decision concerning ATO funding cutbacks as previously warned.

'At the end of the day,' said Ms McCleary, 'it will be taxpayer services which will suffer. This will mean an increase in inaccurate returns and more frustration and disillusionment with our tax system.'