Tax is not a fashionable topic in Australia, but what is
even less fashionable for Australia is an inefficient, uncertain, unstable
national tax base without integrity.
The Ninth Biannual Hearing, the first to use an expanded
format, and the second to table a formal report, is an increased effort by the
JCPAA in the 43rd Parliament to ensure a stable, certain, efficient tax base
and one of the highest quality.
The Committee found that the administration of Australia’s
tax system is robust. Overall it is well managed, providing a trusted
foundation for Australia’s people, business and governments. However, through
the hearing process, the Committee identified a number of improvements that can
still be made.
This report presents the evidence, findings and
recommendations from the public hearing with the Commissioner of Taxation.
Following the last hearing with the Tax Commissioner, the
Committee decided to both prepare a formal summary report and to enlarge the
hearings to include external scrutiny, industry and consumer bodies. External
scrutiny bodies invited to the current hearing included: the Ombudsman, the
Australian National Audit Office, and the Inspector-General of Taxation. As
well, community of practice representatives invited included the Tax Institute
and the Association of Taxation and Management Accountants. I thank them all
for their involvement and input.
I was pleased for the JCPAA that the recommendations made in
the report of the Eighth Biannual Hearing with the Commissioner of Taxation
were all agreed to and completed by the ATO, before their hearing. As
requested, the ATO provided the Committee with a written submission which
covered the summary of their performance for 2010-11 and information
categorised by the key themes of the previous hearing. This was very thorough
and helpful providing the Committee with an excellent background for the
hearing. The Committee thanks the ATO for both their diligence and their
willingness to engage.
Overall I believe there was a sense of working through
issues collaboratively from all participants. I look forward to this continuing
and further cultivating this productive relationship with the ATO and all
others who participated in the hearing. The Committee got a lot of valuable
information through the restructured format and the feedback so far has been
that this format has been a success and should continue.
I thank the Commissioner of Taxation; the Ombudsman; the
Auditor‑General and the Inspector-General of Taxation, as well as their
support staff for the time and effort put into the hearing. I would also like
to thank the representatives of the Tax Institute and the Association of
Taxation and Management Accountants. Finally thank you to the secretariat of
the Committee their on-going work and support.
List of recommendations
1 Biannual hearing with the Commissioner of Taxation
The Committee recommends that the Australian Taxation Office
increase the visibility of the traffic light reporting system, on its
achievements against benchmarks, to a more prominent position on its website
with clear signposting for visitors to the website.
The Committee recommends that Australian Taxation Office
notifications to the Government, either directly or through Treasury, on tax
policy and legislative problems be made public within 12 months of submission,
along with the Government’s response.
The Committee recommends the Inspector–General of Taxation’s
reviews be made public within a reasonable time.
The Committee recommends that the external review agencies
investigate and report on opportunities for more strategic planning and
improved information sharing as they undertake their reviews to avoid
duplication of their efforts and the Australian Taxation Office’s resources.
The Committee recommends that all future Australian Taxation
Office submissions are provided at least one month before the scheduled public
hearing into tax administration.
The Committee recommends that the next Australian Taxation
Office submission include information on the following areas:
of the review of service standards;
identified between international best practice service standards and current
Australian Taxation Office performance;
from complaints and their nexus with clear communication;
for simplification of communication and the use of plain language – including
some ‘before’ and ‘after’ examples;
in compromised Tax File Numbers and identity fraud, including work with crime
for resolving complex compromised Tax File Numbers;
of lodgement processes for medium, small and micro businesses;
to promote the update of the ‘no strings attached’ small business advisory
including taxpayer feedback, of the use of benchmarks;
done on estimating the tax gap and its possible impacts;
with Treasury and other key agencies on policy development consultation;
summary of legal cases that may have significant tax administration
on any changes to the Australian Taxation Office governance structure;
on the Australian Taxation Office Online 2015 project;
of recommendations by the external scrutiny bodies, and recommendations not
agreed to and why; and
for speedy release of superannuation funds in crisis situations.