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05 Sep 14 ATO Tax Practitioners Advisory Group

On Friday 22 August 2014, Tax Counsel Thilini Wickramasuriya ATI attended a meeting of the ATO Tax Practitioner Advisory Group (ATPAG). The discussion included the following:

• New Chairperson of the ATPAG (Deputy Commissioner Erin Holland, Tax Practitioner Lodgment Strategy and Compliance Support) noted that feedback from practitioners focussed on the following areas:

  • Lodgment program
  • Portal
  • ELS to SBR
  • ATO consultation and information dissemination. 

ATO updated the members on changes to the Australian Business Register to increase efficiency and reduce costs to business. 

• ATO noted current initiatives to reduce red tape. They have reported to government on MyTax and changing thresholds for PAYG instalments as part of this initiative. Members raised other areas where red tape could be reduced by the ATO. The Tax Institute’s representative noted Portal delays and the taxable payments reporting system as adding to red tape for members. The Tax Institute’s representative also noted a concern that ATO messages regarding transition from ELS to SBR are not effective and asked the ATO to take a proactive role on this issue. The ATO indicated that further consultation required on the Portal, communications preferencing, ELS to SBR and on lodgment dates. 

ATO updated members on the reasoning behind ceasing the Compliance in Focus publication and discussed how this information will be disseminated in future (through ATO Corporate Plan, an online ‘hub’, and specific ATO communications). 

Members participated in an interactive session to give feedback on the ATO’s reinvention program. 

Following the meeting, the ATO issued these key messages:

Compliance in Focus

The ATO is currently consulting on replacing the annual Compliance in Focus booklet and moving to an ongoing approach to communicating what the ATO is doing in the area of compliance by focussing on specific risks with relevant audiences at the right time.The ATO will use a series of targeted communication activities to focus on risk areas or market segments throughout the year. This will bring ongoing community attention on specific areas to relevant audiences, rather than general attention on the broader program of work once during the year. The ATO will also highlight assistance and services available to help people comply with their obligations.A variety of pre-existing and multi-channel approaches will be used and may include forums, committees, social media, media releases, media interviews, speeches, news and updates, networks with industry and associations and the ATO website.

Reducing Red Tape

The Australian Government has a deregulation agenda with a target to reduce red tape by one billion dollars a year. A deregulation division has been established in Treasury to work with deregulation teams in each regulatory agency in the Treasury portfolio.The ‘Reinventing the ATO’ program of work currently underway is expected to deliver a red tape reduction by removing irritants and improving administrative systems. Some of the current initiatives include:

  • introduction of myTax for individuals
  • increasing the pay as you go instalment thresholds, and
  • making payment arrangements online.

Members of the ATO Tax Practitioner Advisory Group have been asked to consider, from a practitioner rather than client perspective, what red tape reductions could lead to simplified and streamlined interactions and assist them in providing better services to the their clients. It was acknowledged that improvements to the reliability of ATO systems would bring a reduction in red tape for practitioners.

Reinventing the ATO

Reinventing the ATO is the blueprint for achieving the ATO mission and vision. The mission is to contribute to the economic and social wellbeing of Australians by fostering willing participation in our tax and superannuation systems. The vision is that the ATO is a leading tax and superannuation administration known for contemporary service, expertise and integrity.

The ATO Commissioners have said:

‘We’re looking to reinvent the ATO, to transform how we go about our core business, and make the ATO a contemporary and service-oriented organisation – to be a leading agency, relevant and responsive to the expectations of the community and government’

The ATO has already started to make improvements to internal processes and deliver contemporary services that support a digital future. They have also started co-designing with audiences including tax practitioners about what the future tax and superannuation experience could look like.Members of the ATO Tax Practitioner Advisory Group will be called upon regularly to help the ATO shape the future design of the tax and superannuation systems.

For more information visit

Tax administration transformation - Reinventing-the-ATO

Members who seek further information in relation to the above should contact us at Tax Policy