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20 Apr 10 Taxation Institute's advocacy results in action on ATO Change Program

Further to the Taxation Institute's letter to the Treasurer (which was copied to both the Prime Minister and the Assistant Treasurer) with regard to the ATO Change program, our continuing advocacy on behalf of members is generating Government action.

The Assistant Treasurer has announced that the Inspector-General of Taxation will investigate the ATO's Change Program (the Terms of Reference for this review are here).  The Taxation Institute has welcomed this inquiry while calling on the ATO to pull out all stops to rectify the problems.

The Inspector-General's office is the appropriate agency to conduct this investigation, but the ATO must act immediately to fix the situation.

On Monday 19 April, the Institute's Senior Tax Counsel, Robert Jeremenko, represented me at a CEO Change Program Update session conducted by the ATO. There were two main messages that came out of the meeting:

All cheques that failed to be issued with notice of assessments will be sent to Australia Post by the end of the day (Monday 19 April); and
The ATO will shortly be making an announcement regarding turning off failure to lodge penalties.  The General Interest Charge will still be dealt with on a case by case basis.

The Commissioner of Taxation is also appearing this week before the Federal Parliamentary Joint Committee on Public Accounts and Audit, where I am sure he will be asked to account for the situation.

On Friday, Robert will join Tax Counsel, Angie Ananda, at another specially convened ATO meeting to discuss all outstanding issues in relation to the Change Program and the ATO's progress to fix the issues.

I fully understand members' frustrations with the ATO system upgrade. The ATO is the only organisation that can fix the issues and the Taxation Institute will be keeping up the pressure and will not stop until the system is fixed.

Noel Rowland

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