20th anniversary (2003 – 2023) – independent investigations to support Integrity in Tax Administration
The Inspector-General of Taxation and Taxation Ombudsman (IGTO), Ms Karen Payne, has released her agency’s Annual Report for the financial year ended 30 June 2023 (FY23). “I am pleased to release the IGTO’s annual report which details our achievements over the past year. This year, in particular, is a significant milestone for my agency, being the 20th anniversary of the creation of the office. The IGTO has been supporting the integrity of the taxation system for 20 years – as Inspector-General of Taxation since 2003 and, additionally, as the Taxation Ombudsman since 2015.”
Reflecting on the past 20 years of her agency, Ms Payne said: “Tax and superannuation systems impact every Australian and all Australians benefit from a tax and superannuation system that is administered with integrity – transparently, fairly and equitably.”
How we performed in FY23
Our Performance Report is set out in Part 2 and measures our performance against Key Performance Areas and Key Performance indicators as set out in our Corporate Plan FY23. The performance report includes both quantitative and qualitative information, including a number of case studies (in Part 1 and Part 2), that illustrate how we are able to, and have, assisted taxpayers through our dispute investigation service.
In FY23, we received 1,529 complaints and disputes, a 16.4% increase over FY22. We closed 1,445 cases within the same period (94.5%).
Table 1.2: FY23 Complaints and Dispute investigations Progressed
|Complaints and Disputes – Total||Complex and High Complex Dispute Investigations*||Complex and High Complex Dispute Investigations %|
|Opening – carried forward from prior year||379||143||38%|
|Progressed during the year||1,908||219||11%|
|Closing – carried forward||463||83||18%|
The majority of complaints and disputes were lodged by unrepresented individual taxpayers (72%) and related to concerns or disputes about administrative actions and decisions of the Australian Taxation Office (ATO, 93.7%).
The top 5 issues that we investigated as part of our dispute investigation service, accounted for 76% of all closed cases. These issues were consistent with those reported in FY22.
Agreed Business Improvements
In addition to resolving specific issues for the taxpayer that raised the dispute, opportunities to make systemic improvements to the tax system may be identified during our dispute investigations without the need to conduct a review investigation. Where our dispute investigations generate an Agreed Business Improvement (ABI) with the ATO or Tax Practitioners Board (TPB), we monitor their progress towards implementation.
In FY23, the ATO implemented 16 ABIs and accepted 18 new ABIs which we proposed. Also, in FY23, the TPB implemented 2 ABIs and accepted 2 new ABIs.
Moving forward, we continue to refine our intake and triage processes to ensure that taxpayers in need of urgent assistance are able to receive it in a timely manner. We are also transitioning to a new case management system that will improve the experience of taxpayers and tax practitioners who seek our assistance, and provide for improved insights and reporting to inform our recommendations to the ATO, the TPB and to Government for improvements to the tax system.
Review and Own Initiative Investigations
In FY23, we progressed three review investigations, finalised two reports and published one. In October 2022 we published the Interim Report of the investigation into The Australian Taxation Office’s Administration and Management of Objections. This interim report represents Phase 1 of the IGTO’s investigation into the ATO’s administration and management of objections. Using underlying data that has been provided by the ATO, the IGTO has developed graphs, tables and ratios to analyse the data to provide stakeholders and the community with insight into the nature of the ATO’s administration of objections.
The second report examined The Exercise of the Commissioner’s General Powers of Administration. The report was finalised in May 2023 and has recently been released. That review investigation examined the nature and purpose of the Commissioner’s general powers of administration and, through a number of case studies, identified opportunities for improvement. Further information about this report, including the IGTO’s recommendations and the ATO’s responses to those recommendations, is available on the IGTO website.
In FY24, we will also be progressing two Own Initiative Investigations which are aimed at examining single issues for improvement. These investigations will examine the ATO’s approach to release of tax debts on grounds of serious hardship, and its use of approved forms.
Ms Payne acknowledged the significant milestone of her office and the contributions of many people over the past 20 years. “I thank the Australian Public Service officers (past and present) of the IGTO (including my predecessor Inspectors-General) for their commitment and professionalism in assisting the Australian community. We are a small team with national responsibilities and deliver real improvements in tax administration. Small outcomes can make a big difference for affected individuals. I also acknowledge and thank officers of the Australian Taxation Office, Tax Practitioners Board and the Treasury for their assistance, and the many stakeholders, tax and professional bodies and other integrity agencies in Australia and overseas who have engaged with my agency and shared their insights and expertise over the past 20 years.”
An extract from the Annual Report (Figure 1.1) summarising the key achievements of the IGTO over the past 20 years is included with this media release.
For further information – Contact
Marjorie Johnston – Wordmakers
Mobile: 0407 329 430
About the IGTO
The Inspector-General of Taxation and Taxation Ombudsman (IGTO) is an independent, Commonwealth statutory agency, established in 2003. The Taxation Ombudsman function was transferred to the IGTO in 2015. The IGTO provides an important safety net service in the tax system. Independent investigation of taxpayer complaints enhances community confidence in the fairness of the tax system and provides assurance to taxpayers in the fairness of their outcomes. This helps to enhance voluntary compliance. The IGTO also provides independent advice and assurance to Government on the taxation administration laws and systems. Since 2015, the IGTO has performed dual roles, which complement each other:
- The Taxation Ombudsman provides independent assistance and assurance directly to taxpayers and tax professionals and investigates taxation complaints about the actions and decisions of the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) or the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB). The Taxation Ombudsman, also conducts investigations of actions that have broader community impact or are commonly observed in a number of complaints to identify wider system improvements that address the causal issues.
- The Inspector-General of Taxation undertakes investigations of actions, systems and taxation laws (to the extent they deal with tax administration matters).