The Tax Institute welcomes the opportunity to make a submission to the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) in relation to the audit of the Australian Taxation Office’s (ATO)’s engagement with tax practitioners (the Audit).
In the development of this submission, we refer to workshops held between members of The Tax Institute and the ANAO on 25 March 2022. Our submission highlights key issues raised in the workshops and general feedback we have received from our members.
The ATO’s engagement with tax practitioners is an important part of our taxation and superannuation systems. An efficient and streamlined engagement process can better ensure that tax practitioners are able to assist taxpayers in meeting their tax obligations.
Conversely, an inefficient engagement process that creates extra steps, barriers or compliance burdens will often result in greater time and cost for tax practitioners, resulting in delays and frustrations for taxpayers. We note that tax practitioners generally bear the brunt of taxpayers’ frustrations, as they tend to be primarily visible in our taxation and superannuation system.
Broadly, the feedback we have received from our members indicates that their engagements with the ATO are overall positive. The ATO generally manages the engagement channels with tax practitioners with the objective of ensuring efficient dealings.
However, our members raised some concerns that prevent the ATO from meeting this objective. These include communications being sent to the wrong entity, pressures on agents resulting from the emphasis seemingly placed by the ATO on the 85% on-time lodgement requirement (85% requirement), and improvements that could be made to the existing online services for tax agents (OSfA).
We consider that addressing these concerns, combined with regular reviews to identify and address issues, will improve the ATO’s engagement with tax practitioners, thereby reducing compliance costs and taxpayers’ frustrations.
The Tax Institute
Performance Audit Services Group
Australian National Audit Office
Robyn Jacobson, CTA
Senior Advocate, The Tax Institute
(03) 9603 2008