Since its inception, the Inspector-General of Taxation and Taxation Ombudsman (IGTO) has conducted reviews into broader or systemic tax administration issues. These investigations cover a wide range of topics that are relevant to all taxpayers and tax practitioners. Through extensive consultation with stakeholders, research and analysis, these reviews have shaped the tax administration landscape for the benefit of all Australians.
Many positive changes to the administration of the tax system in Australia have their genesis in IGTO reviews as well as other related IGTO activities. They have, collectively, improved the transparency, fairness and certainty of the tax system.
Our review work is grounded in ensuring the administration of the tax system aligns with community expectations. Our understanding of the community's expectations with respect to the features of good tax administration is outlined here.
The chart below provides a breakdown of our completed reviews according to the features of tax administration which they had investigated.
Tax administration focus of completed IGTO reviews (as at 28 February 2020)
Commencement of IGTO reviews
Our reviews originate from a number of different sources – the IGTO’s own initiative; a direction by, or request from, the Minister; a request from either or both Houses of Parliament or a Parliamentary Committee; or a request from the Commissioner of Taxation or the Chair of the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB). The table below provides a breakdown of IGTO reviews that were conducted at the IGTO’s own initiative or otherwise.
|Reason for the review||Number completed||Percentage|
|IGTO own initiated||41||84%|
|Requested or directed by the Minister||3||6%|
|Requested by Parliamentary Committees||2||4%|
|Requested by the ATO||3||6%|
How the IGTO decides own initiative review topics
We undertake extensive consultation with stakeholders, research and analysis to decide which areas of the system to commence reviews and determine which are likely to generate the highest degrees of benefit to the Australian community as a whole.
Since taking on the Taxation Ombudsman role in 2015, we also analyse data from complaints lodged with our office, which has enabled us to gain real-time insight into emerging issues, to inform potential review areas.
Our reviews into aspects of the pay as you go instalment system and Goods and Services Tax refunds are examples of two reviews which were commenced in direct response to trends in complaint handling data.
We envisage that more targeted reviews will be undertaken in an expedited manner to address particular areas where significant complaints have been received before they escalate into major system failures or causes of taxpayer discontent.
Our office also consults extensively with the broader community, including taxpayers, tax professionals and their representative bodies in conducting reviews. We also consult with the Government and its agencies, such as the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), TPB, Australian National Audit Office, Commonwealth Ombudsman and Treasury. Input is also sought from the Minister as well as Parliamentary Committees.
How you can provide information on topics the IGTO should review?
If you have an area you believe the IGTO should review, you may raise this with us using the methods outlined below. When we announce a new review, we may also specifically request submissions to be made to our office.
Fax: (02) 8239 2100
GPO Box 551
Sydney, NSW 2001
Release of IGTO reports
We produce and publish a report for all reviews undertaken. These reports set out our observations on the concerns raised as well as practical options for improvement. Our recommendations for improvement can be made to the ATO, TPB or, on occasion, to the Government, depending on whether the recommended changes are within the scope of the ATO’s or TPB’s power or whether legislative change is required.
Whilst the IGTO may express views and findings as part of the review process as well as make recommendations for improvement, our role is purely advisory and we do not have the power to compel the ATO or TPB to accept any recommendations or implement any changes with which they disagree. Despite this, the vast majority of the IGTO’s recommendations to the ATO and TPB have been accepted and implemented. Even where recommendations are not initially accepted, experience has shown that they may be subsequently taken on board and implemented.
Where our reports make recommendations directed to the Government, we are required by legislation to submit our report to the Minister who has 25 sitting days of the House of Representatives to release the report. Where our reports only contain recommendations to the ATO or TPB, the reports are released directly by us via our website.