15 Mar 13 Preamble - 15 March 2013
I’m writing to you this week from The Tax Institute's National Convention in Perth. We are on our final day of sessions and it has been fantastic to be able to speak with so many members as they have interacted with the tax profession's best practitioners.
In addition to the fantastic tax techincal sessions, we have also been enjoying keynote speeches from the core disciplines of law, public administration, business and politics.
These included the first keynote speech by Tax Commissioner, Chris Jordan AO. The Commissioner outlined his plan to address long-held concerns over perceived bias in the Tax Office appeals process and place renewed focus on producing timely guidance on emerging tax law.
The Tax Institute welcomes this, as currently the ATO is the judge, jury and executioner in determining the fate of taxpayers, with the expensive Court and Tribunal process left as the only other taxpayer recourse. Access to an independent and relatively inexpensive appeals process will bolster taxpayer confidence in the integrity of our tax administration system.
In another positive step, the Commissioner announced a renewed focus on producing timely ATO guidance on emerging tax law and a renewed commitment to the tripartite tax law design process.
Whenever changes are made to tax law, the pertinent question on taxpayers’ minds is ‘How will the Commissioner administer the new law?’. A specific ATO focus on providing a timely answer to this question will go a long way towards reducing uncertainty for individual taxpayers and businesses alike.
Tax law design produces best results in a tripartite consultation setting, when the ATO, private sector tax experts and Treasury address tax policy and implementation matters collaboratively. We have long advocated for well resourced tripartite consultation focussed on developing laws in the national interest, so we look forward to working with the ATO and Treasury to ensure those members with the necessary expertise are involved in this process.
A greater focus on resourcing this process and providing timely input from both the administrator's perspective and from the Treasury will produce more effective tax laws the first time around - with fewer surprises and lower compliance costs for taxpayers and the Government alike.
Robert Jeremenko CTA