Telephone: (02) 8239 2111
Facsimile: (02) 8239 2100
Level 6, 321 Kent Street
Sydney NSW 2000
GPO Box 551
Sydney NSW 2001
The Hon Stuart Robert MP
Canberra ACT 2600
The Future of the Tax Profession
I am pleased to present you with my report of the above review which was undertaken in response to a request from the Commissioner of Taxation (Commissioner) as well as concerns raised by stakeholders within the tax profession.
The review examined the challenges and opportunities presented by new and emerging digital technologies, along with the accompanying social, policy and regulatory impacts on the administration of the tax system and the tax profession.
The review highlights the need for all participants within the tax system to take prompt action to address the upcoming challenges and realise the benefits presented by emerging opportunities. Given the interconnectedness of the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) and tax professionals, it is imperative that they take collective and well-coordinated action which can only be achieved through a strong and collegiate working relationship. It is regrettable, therefore, that in recent years, the working relationship particularly between the ATO and the tax profession has been strained through ongoing IT stability issues and unfortunate ATO commentary such as those in a recent speech by the Commissioner regarding work-related expenses. Building on previous IGT reviews, there are further recommendations in this review aimed at improving this crucial relationship.
Overall, nine recommendations (comprising 28 parts) were made, three parts for the Government's consideration, 19 parts for the ATO and the remaining six parts for the TPB. The TPB has agreed to all recommendations made to it. Whilst the ATO had initially indicated agreement with the majority of recommendations, in the final stages of the review, it conveyed disagreement with eight parts of the recommendations. The ultimate disagreements are with parts of the recommendations aimed at enhancing the ATO workforce, assisting tax practitioners to prepare themselves to meet the future challenges and ensuring that the fragile relationship between tax practitioners and the ATO is carefully managed.
Notwithstanding the disagreement above, the ATO has agreed with the remaining parts of the recommendations and has advised that seven were either implemented before the completion of this review or were to be achieved as part of its existing programmes of work. Whether the ATO's implementation or existing programmes of work address the concerns raised with the IGT will be a matter for its Audit and Risk Committee. However, if these recommendations are not appropriately implemented, the IGT may have to conduct its own follow-up review.
The three parts of recommendations for the Government's consideration relate to reforming work-related deductions which will assist to fully realise the benefits of automation, enhancing whole-of-government digital transformation and bolstering the sanctions that the TPB may impose on non-compliant tax professionals.
I offer my thanks to all who contributed to this review including IGT, TPB and ATO staff, tax professionals and their professional associations as well as taxpayers.
Inspector-General of Taxation
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