Speaking at the Institute of Public Accountants and IPA Deakin SME Research Centre’s Small Business: Big Vision conference, Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar said that while the ATO has done “a lot of good work”, he would like to see greater recognition of the tax profession.
“As accountants are predominantly doing all the heavy lifting, I want the ATO to be more engaging with the accounting profession and do whatever it takes to better accommodate all their interactions with this government agency,” Mr Sukkar said.
“Accountants and advisers are pivotal to the success of small business clients, and it’s not just tax matters that they are asked to assist with but a plethora of business and non-business needs.
“There are few professionals who hold this trusted relationship.”
Mr Sukkar’s comments come a week after the ATO released its first small business tax gap report, which found a gap of $11.1 billion, or 12.5 per cent.
While the ATO has made great strides in its commitment to its reinvention program in becoming a contemporary service-oriented organisation, the Assistant Treasurer said the Tax Office should strive for a more positive interaction with taxpayers.
“I am looking for taxpayers, including small businesses, to have less frequent interactions [with the ATO] but for those interactions to be more positive than they may have been in the past,” he said.
IPA chief executive Andrew Conway said it was encouraging to hear Mr Sukkar’s comments recognising the work that accountants play in their clients’ lives.
“It is pleasing that Minister Sukkar as Assistant Treasurer has sent a strong signal to our profession. The government genuinely respects the work our members do, and this will be welcomed by all members working day in, day out to maintain the integrity of the tax system as trusted advisers to small business,” Mr Conway said.
Jotham Lian is the news editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.
Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.