List of Recommendations

Recommendation 1

The Committee recommends that a review of Australia’s tax system should be undertaken before 2022, with the purpose of making recommendations on how to simplify the present tax system, in order to reduce both the quantum of tax law and improve comprehension and compliance by people without expertise in taxation law.

Recommendation 2

The Committee recommends that the ATO should continue to deploy behavioural insights approaches to increase taxpayer engagement. The ATO should, however, examine and report on the results of these programs or activities, recognising their limitations within an overly complex tax system.

Recommendation 3

The Committee recommends that the ATO should make greater use of behavioural insights techniques, such as randomised controlled trials, before full implementation of new initiatives to determine if such changes are indeed better than current practices, and if so, which changes are the most effective.
The ATO could also run continuous trials (using methodology such as, but not limited to, the Lean Six Sigma system1) on communication platforms and channels to ensure that its systems are constantly being tested and improved.

Recommendation 4

The ATO consider adopting a Regulatory Philosophy to codify the principles on which it will administer tax laws and engage with taxpayers.

Recommendation 5

The Committee recommends that the ATO should continue to expand availability of technical initiatives such as pre-filling, simplified electronic lodgement systems for business and individuals, and online assessment tools to facilitate Australia’s transition to a ‘push return’ tax system.
While supporting these developments, the Committee upholds the individual’s choice to manage their own tax affairs, using ATO or commercial products, and to seek professional advice from tax professionals enabled by efficient online lodgement services.

Recommendation 6

Based on the New Zealand system, the Committee recommends that Treasury considers an ABN withholding tax system at source for all industries with the potential for the rates to be industry specific.

Recommendation 7

The Committee recommends the ATO should review the functionality of the contactor assessment tool for accuracy and utility to taxpayers by reference to the functionality of the tool deployed in the United Kingdom, and report to the Committee on its progress.

Recommendation 8

The Committee recommends that the work-related deductions scheme be reformed by introducing the standard deduction concept as proposed by the Australia’s Future Tax System Review.
Fairness would be maintained by enabling individuals to claim above the set amount by providing full substantiation through a tax return process.

Recommendation 9

The Committee recommends that the ATO should adopt a roadmap for the abolition of paper-based returns, including testing and trialling with user groups.

Recommendation 10

For the foreseeable future, the Committee recommends that the ATO maintain paper-based returns and the distribution of paper publications on request to those people who choose to engage this way.
Additionally, taxpayers seeking non-digital tax resources for tax returns at a myGov Shopfront should be assisted on site.

Recommendation 11

In the interests of promoting fairness and taxpayer confidence in Australia’s tax system, the Committee recommends that the ATO should work to develop a framework which clearly outlines the rights and obligations of both parties in the tax engagement process for adoption in the near future.
The process, involving the review of high level ATO mission statements, would be consistent with the ATO’s principle-based approach to service delivery and support design of a Regulatory Philosophy document.

Recommendation 12

The Committee also recommends that, in implementation and change management programs, the ATO should include a service level agreement with end users, especially tax agents, that includes amongst other things, consideration of payments to end users for poor delivery outcomes.
This is proposed in recognition that the ATO is a monopoly provider that is not subject to contestability in its service delivery.

Recommendation 13

The Committee recommends that the ATO should engage with all service providers according to the principle of competitive neutrality, allowing taxpayers the ultimate choice of which channel of access or service to use, and which channel is in their best interests.

  • 1
    Six Sigma is a disciplined, data-driven approach and methodology for eliminating defects (driving toward six standard deviations between the mean and the nearest specification limit) in any process – from manufacturing to transactional and from product to service. See Six Sigma < > viewed 24 July 2018.

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