21 Apr 11 The Tax Institute in the media
The Tax Institute was quoted in Smart Company on Monday 18 April 2011: "Accountancy bodies bullish on professional privilege plans" in relation to tax advice privilege. In the article, The Tax Institute says that tax advisers play a really key role in ensuring compliance with tax laws, so we need to ensure that communication between a client and their tax adviser is full and frank. That will only happen when there's no fear that those communications will need to be handed off to the tax Commissioner. Extending professional privilege to accountants would not hurt the unique rights of officers of the court, as the two privileges can live together in harmony. To view the article, click here.
The Tax Institute was extensively quoted in the Australian Financial Review on Tuesday 19 April 2011: "ATO accused of bullying tactics". In the article, The Tax Institute says that complaints from members about ATO auditors not following their own rules of engagement have increased in recent months. This is an issue that really does affect advisers and taxpayers themselves. In these cases there seems to be a presumption of guilt by the ATO. How does this give taxpayers certainty in relation to their tax affairs? We hope these complaints are not evidence of a pattern of this sort of approach. The Tax Institute National Convention in March is also referenced.
As a follow on article on the same issue, the Australian Financial Review quoted The Tax Institute on Wednesday 20 April 2011: “ATO backs staff on SME complaints”. The Tax Institute says that the vast majority of taxpayers are doing the right thing and welcome the audits but it was vital that the auditors keep an open mind. The Institute also said that we need to see some fair rules of engagement, open and fair processes and ensure that auditors are acting in a commercial manner and have good commercial knowledge.
The Australian Financial Review quoted The Tax Institute on Tuesday 19 April 2011: "ATO staff lack technical expertise". In the article, the Inspector-General of Taxation speaks about complaints received regarding SME auditors lacking technical knowledge and being plagued by high turnover. The Tax Institute says that its members have raised issues including about inappropriately targeted info requests and insufficient time to respond. Small business could carry a real compliance burden as they were less likely to have the capacity to deal with ATO requests. There's nothing wrong with audits per se, but some aspects of the process seem to be problematic at the moment. The ATO must stick to the rules of engagement under the Taxpayers Charter.