House of Representatives Committees

| Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit

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Preliminary Pages

Foreword

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.

 

Rob Oakeshott

Chair

 


Membership of the Committee

 

 

Chair

Mr Robert Oakeshott MP

 

Deputy Chair

Mrs Yvette D’Ath MP

 

Members

Hon Dick Adams MP

Senator Mark Bishop

 

Mr Jamie Briggs MP

Senator Helen Kroger

 

Ms Gai Brodtmann MP

Senator Glenn Sterle

 

Mr Darren Cheeseman MP

Senator Matt Thistlethwaite

 

Mr Josh Frydenberg MP

 

 

Ms Deb O’Neill MP

 

 

Ms Laura Smyth MP

 

 

Hon Alexander Somlyay MP

 

 

 

 

 

Committee Secretariat

 

Secretary

Mr David Brunoro

Research Officers

Ms Lynette Mollard

Administrative Officers

Mrs Dorota Cooley

 

Ms Katrina Gillogly


List of abbreviations

ABS

Australian Bureau of Statistics

ANAO

Australian National Audit Office

ASIC

Australian Securities and Investments Commission

ATMA

Association of Taxation and Management Accountants

ATO

Australian Taxation Office

AUSTRAC

Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre

BAS

Business Activity Statement

CPA

Certified Public Accountant

GST

Goods and Services Tax

ICT

Information and Communication Technology

IGT

Inspector-General of Taxation

JCPAA

Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit

NTLG

National Tax Liaison Group

SME

Small and Medium Enterprises

SMSFs

Self Managed Super Funds

TFN

Tax File Number

the Commissioner

Commissioner of Taxation

the Committee

Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit



List of recommendations

1     Biannual hearing with the Commissioner of Taxation

Recommendation 1

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.

Recommendation 2

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.

Recommendation 3

The Committee recommends the Inspector–General of Taxation’s reviews be made public within a reasonable time.

Recommendation 4

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.

Recommendation 5

The Committee recommends that all future Australian Taxation Office submissions are provided at least one month before the scheduled public hearing into tax administration.

Recommendation 6

The Committee recommends that the next Australian Taxation Office submission include information on the following areas:

  • findings of the review of service standards;

  • gaps identified between international best practice service standards and current Australian Taxation Office performance;

  • learnings from complaints and their nexus with clear communication;

  • initiatives for simplification of communication and the use of plain language – including some ‘before’ and ‘after’ examples;

  • trends in compromised Tax File Numbers and identity fraud, including work with crime detection agencies;

  • new strategies for resolving complex compromised Tax File Numbers;

  • simplification of lodgement processes for medium, small and micro businesses;

  • efforts to promote the update of the ‘no strings attached’ small business advisory service;

  • evaluation, including taxpayer feedback, of the use of benchmarks;

  • work done on estimating the tax gap and its possible impacts;

  • interaction with Treasury and other key agencies on policy development consultation;

  • a summary of legal cases that may have significant tax administration implications;

  • progress on any changes to the Australian Taxation Office governance structure;

  • progress on the Australian Taxation Office Online 2015 project;

  • implementation of recommendations by the external scrutiny bodies, and recommendations not agreed to and why; and

  • processes for speedy release of superannuation funds in crisis situations.

     

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