The Inspector-General of Taxation (IGT), Mr Ali Noroozi, today announced his community consultation process to establish a new Work Program for 2012-13 and beyond.
The role of the IGT is to improve the administration of the tax system for the benefit of all Australians. The IGT reviews systems and processes set up by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to administer tax and superannuation laws. The IGT is empowered to review tax administration policy but not substantive tax policy such as what and how much tax should be levied.
"I am keen to ensure that my Work Program targets areas that provide the greatest opportunity to improve tax administration for all Australians. To this end, I consult widely before settling a program of work and welcome submissions from taxpayers, tax professionals and their representative bodies," Mr Noroozi said.
"My legislation permits me unrestricted access to the ATO's internal system, records and personnel. I can navigate the system, address information imbalances, report on the issues and make recommendations to improve the system," he says.
The IGT examines certain taxpayer cases to better understand how improvements may be made to the tax system more broadly. However, the IGT does not address single taxpayer complaints – that is the role of the Ombudsman's office.
"This consultation process is a valuable opportunity for the community to come forward and raise systemic tax administration issues that are of concern. By necessity, the ATO is a monopoly service provider to the Australian community. As such it is imperative that effective governance and scrutineering functions are engaged to address concerns," he observed.
"The IGT office is approaching its ten year anniversary. Looking back on what has been accomplished, I consider each IGT report represents an incremental improvement whilst IGT work as a whole has resulted in enduring improvements to tax administration. The quality of interactions between the IGT and taxpayers, their representatives and the ATO itself is crucial to the realisation of such improvements," Mr Noroozi said.
The IGT reports address a broad range of issues affecting many Australians. Some examples include reviews into the ATO's large-scale IT system upgrade (the Change Program), administration of Superannuation Guarantee Charge, management of binding advice, use of benchmarks to target the cash economy, so-called 'u-turns' and compliance approach in the Large as well as Small and Medium Enterprise market segments.
The ATO has agreed and implemented most IGT recommendations. A number of IGT recommendations to Government have also been adopted, such as some of those contained in the Superannuation Guarantee Charge report.
The IGT is required to establish a work program that lists areas he intends to review. Each review is subject to resourcing priorities and the potential for ministerial direction to review a particular matter of concern.
The IGT's office maintains the strictest confidence with those who raise issues or areas of concern with him. Where applicable, legal professional privilege is also maintained in relation to any matters raised with his office.
"I encourage you to have your say in how administration of the tax system may be improved. I'm seeking the broadest engagement practicable in the time available. I will consider all the issues raised and review matters with the most potential for making the tax administration system fairer, simpler, more transparent, or more efficient." Mr Noroozi said.
During the course of IGT reviews this year, some issues have been identified as potential review topics in their own right. Additionally, the IGT has continued to receive submissions throughout the year requesting reviews on a range of issues. Issues from both these sources include:
- the ATO's Risk Engine;
- delayed income tax refunds;
- the ATO's compliance approach to the micro enterprises and individuals market segment;
- the ATO's administration of penalties;
- the ATO's interactions with the Australian Valuation Office;
- the ATO's use of client feedback questionnaires;
- the ATO's administration of the general anti-avoidance provisions;
- the ATO compliance approach to transfer pricing;
- ATO services and support for tax practitioners;
- the ATO's Test Case Litigation Program; and
- Project Wickenby.
"I urge taxpayers, tax practitioners and their representative bodies to comment on the suitability of the above as review topics as well as raising any other topics arising out of their interactions with the ATO," Mr Noroozi said.
Submissions close 28 September 2012. The preferred method for receiving submissions is email to email@example.com.
Previous IGT reviews as well as range of other information relating to the IGT may be found at www.igt.gov.au.
13 August 2012
Media contact: Ali Noroozi – (02) 8239 2111