ATO Aknowledges Tax Agent Frustrations

The ATO has acknowledged that its use of technology and administrative changes combined with the existing ATO portal issues have added to the frustrations and lost productivity for many small tax practitioners.

“Most tax agent practitioners are small businesses themselves working hard to service the interests of their clients,” said Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) chief executive officer, Andrew Conway.

“Tax practitioners are still very much in demand and assist some 70 per cent of individuals and 90 per cent of business taxpayers meet their tax compliance obligations.  “While the IPA supports the better use of technology, it is concerning that the ATO’s push for more digital interactions is coming at the expense of tax agent practices."

“Our members have highlighted to us on many occasions that they have suffered productivity loss, missed deadlines, and incurred irrecoverable costs as well as damage to their reputations and relationships with their clients.

“Transitioning to a digital delivery for BAS statements and the use of the Client Correspondence List on the portal are two recent examples causing frustration and which are having a detrimental impact on the relationship between tax agents and the ATO.

“The ATO portal which is an essential tool of trade for practitioners and agents has been a constant point of frustration due to the portal’s instability and unreliability. More digital interactions are putting even more reliance on the sub-standard portal.

“The ATO has acknowledged that the portal is far from best practice and is currently working on a long term solution through the migration to a new more functional platform. The acknowledgment and the following statement by the ATO has been welcomed:

“Where the ATO is looking to develop technology or administrative changes, we will co design and consult with a range a tax practices to build systems that consider and accommodate the current practice management procedures. The aim will be to ensure that the changes do not add additional tasks that practitioners will need to accommodate outside of their normal processes but rather will operate within the normal processes.”
–Source: Statement was made at the 21 August meeting of the Australian Tax Practitioner Advisory Group (ATPAG), of which the IPA is a member.

“On the back of this, we look forward to the ATO’s commitment to co-design with better consultation to build systems that consider and accommodate current practice management procedures,” said Mr Conway.