1.1 The IGT considered it important and necessary to assess, after a reasonable period, the implementation of improvements to tax administration recommended and agreed to by the ATO in the six reviews he had completed between June 2006 and October 2008. In undertaking this review, the IGT has also assessed the timeliness of the publication of Decision Impact Statements following on from recommendations in his 2006 report on the Tax Office's management of Part IVC litigation.
1.2 This review has been akin to undertaking six separate reviews — albeit of a smaller scale than the original review process.
1.3 Based on a thorough analysis of the ATO's actions in response to each agreed recommendation, the IGT has determined that the ATO has implemented or partly implemented 38 of 41 agreed IGT recommendations. Importantly, agreed recommendations are those aspects of the original IGT recommendations that the ATO agreed to implement.
1.4 Concerns remain in relation to those recommendations or aspects thereof upon which agreement was not reached and/or were not implemented. In particular, the ATO's comments regarding the IGT's recommendation1 to ensure that ATO guidance which is of a significant nature, and which affects a large segment of the taxpayer population be in a binding form. This concern regarding the level of binding advice is also raised in the IGT 2009 review2 into the ATO's administration of public binding advice.
1.5 This follow up review's implementation outcomes are a reflection of the work of the IGT and the ATO's openness to scrutiny and commitment to making improvements. It is also a reflection of the valuable contribution made by accounting, tax, legal and business organisations and their members to the Office of the IGT. These organisations provided a range of support to the IGT in the conduct of this review.
1.6 The level of change associated with the implementation of a number of recommendations has been accompanied by appropriate communication with taxpayers through a number of mediums. The monitoring and reporting of the status of implementation of recommendations to senior ATO management remains an area requiring improvement. However, the ATO is currently in the process of introducing a number of initiatives that are aimed at addressing this issue.
1.7 A welcome aspect of this review has been the general willingness of the ATO to work with the IGT to make changes to some of its implementation work in order to demonstrate an implemented or partly implemented status. There were aspects of this review that require improvement with respect to timely provision of information and resolution of issues. However my office and the ATO are working cooperatively to finalise a new implementation framework designed to enhance the follow up review process and outcomes for IGT recommendations.
1.8 The ATO's formal response notes that this follow up review has been of benefit by providing useful indicators on where it needs to focus for those areas requiring further improvement.
1.9 The IGT will also maintain a specific watching brief over certain matters or undertakings the ATO has provided in the context of the report.
1 Recommendation 8 of IGT's 2007 Review of Tax Office's management of complex issues — Case study on service entity arrangements(publicly released January 2007).
2 Review of the Tax Office's administration of public binding advice (publicly released April 2009).