The pressure is growing for the government to explicitly include compensation related to digital systems after last week’s ATO outages.
‘Apology doesn’t go far enough’: Calls for ATO outage compensation increase
While the government is currently reviewing the Compensation for Defective and Detrimental Administration (CDDA) scheme, the ATO’s second major outage in as many months last week has reignited calls from the professional associations for the scheme to consider the impact digital system outages have on tax agents.
Speaking to Accountants Daily, CPA Australia general manager of external policy Paul Drum said the current CDDA scheme was not fit for purpose in the 21st century.
“Our key point is that the CDDA scheme should include compensation related to digital systems because it doesn’t at the moment look at digital systems,” Mr Drum said.
“This is a major oversight particularly when we have governments trying to encourage people and businesses to go digital and they are a monopoly — they are not a supplier of choice. It is not as if the customer can go elsewhere.
“It needs to be factored into the model that there is compensation available, and we’re talking pecuniary compensation, not just additional time to lodge.”
Likewise, the Institute of Public Accountants chief executive Andrew Conway believes “a mere apology doesn’t go far enough”, and that a blanket redress arrangement should be considered.
“The existing framework provides little scope for intermediaries such as tax agents to make a claim. It is not fit for purpose, especially in light of accountants facing rising costs from increased regulation and compliance requirements,” Mr Conway said.
“Practitioners who lose productivity time need to be compensated. It is real time and it’s real income that is lost. Time is an accountant’s commodity.
“Tax practitioners have faced loss of income, lost productivity, psychological injury from stress and anxiety, and reputational damage from system outages and where the digital journey has not gone smoothly; all matters outside of their control.”
Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand had previously submitted that apart from the CDDA, the ATO should “seriously consider” a tax technology service standard for taxpayers and tax practitioners.
It believes digital disruptions will be commonplace given the speed in which the digital world changes, a point echoed by CPA.
“These are not supernova moments. There are expectations as we progress further into the 21st century and the digital economy that these are not one-off events, they will invariably happen again and again,” Mr Drum said.
“The compensation system should be framed to take that into account.”