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Monday, 23 November 2015
Page: 13218


Mr VAN MANEN (Forde) (11:59): I present the committee's report entitled 2014 annual report of the Australian Taxation Office (Second report), together with the minutes of proceedings.

In accordance with standing order 39(e) the report was made a Parliamentary Paper.

Mr VAN MANEN: by leave—I rise today to table the report of the Standing Committee on Tax and Revenue titled 2014 annual report of the Australian Taxation Office: second report. This report covers the committee's September public hearing with the Australian Taxation Office, the Inspector-General of Taxation, and other stakeholders. It is the fourth regular review of tax administration by the committee. Regular scrutiny of the ATO through these hearings allows the committee to closely monitor developments in tax administration, and provides the ATO and stakeholders with a forum to discuss new issues in tax.

The tax agent portal and the client correspondence list tool were key topics at the hearing. These are crucial facilities for most tax practitioners, and their reliability is of utmost importance. At the hearing, tax practitioners said they had experienced difficulties in accessing the portal and the tool in a timely manner. This creates inefficiencies for them and for their clients. It also affects client and practitioner perceptions of the ATO as a modern, client-focused agency.

There have been widely reported consumer issues that accompanied the roll-out of myTax. This, combined with the difficulties I have just mentioned, suggest that the deployment of IT solutions continues to require the attention of senior ATO management. I understand that many online services experience difficulties during rollouts or during significant upgrades; however, the community expects their experience should align with the ATO's goal of providing a streamlined client experience. The committee will continue to monitor this.

We note in our report that there have also been some positive IT developments at the ATO. It is working with software providers to help them incorporate Standard Business Reporting into their software products. As part of this process the ATO has an opportunity to be open and transparent with tax practitioners about the implications of Standard Business Reporting for their business model.

The committee was pleased to hear that the ATO has taken a flexible and consultative approach in revising the implementation date for Single Touch Payroll. Taking the time to consult with key stakeholders, even if there is short term delay, can produce a successful rollout. In the long run, this will save tax practitioners time and it will reduce frustration. The committee will continue to monitor the introduction of Single Touch Payroll in future reviews.

Taxpayer uptake of myTax was also a positive development. The eTax system was ageing and not accessible to every online user. We look forward to the further expansion and enhancement of myTax and myDeductions, and hope that the system proves to be stable and that it is used more by taxpayers.

The committee continued our focus on estimates of the tax gap, an issue we have been monitoring since the committee's inception. We note the delayed publication of the estimates for high-wealth individuals and fringe benefits tax, until 2016. However, we look forward to continued improvement in the ATO's reporting of tax gaps across the board and the resulting benefits in transparency and understanding of the tax system.

As the report notes, the ATO is making good progress in a range of areas, continues to focus on improving the taxpayer experience, and has developed strategies to address emerging tax issues. We support the Commissioner of Taxation and his executive team in continuing to drive the reinvention project throughout the ATO. I thank the Australian Taxation Office, the Inspector General of Taxation and all other stakeholders who assisted us in the inquiry. I also thank my fellow committee members for their continued commitment to scrutiny of tax administration. In that regard, I would like to acknowledge the work of the previous deputy chair, the Hon. Dr Jim Chalmers, who is here in the chamber today, and also the new deputy chair of the committee, the member for Oxley, Bernie Ripoll. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the secretariat, ably led by Mr David Monk. I also thank Jean Cuthill for her terrific work on this report, and Susan Cardell, who has recently departed the secretariat, David Brunoro and the rest of the secretariat. I commend the report to the House.