Speaking to Accountants Daily, Inspector-General of Taxation and Taxation Ombudsman (IGTO) Karen Payne said she believed a greater collaboration between agencies within the tax system could help improve outcomes for practitioners and taxpayers alike.
“One area, for example, that I have raised with the Tax Office is that they obviously get complaints made directly to them; we have complainant statistics that we get; and the Tax Practitioners Board also themselves gets complaints data.
“So, I think it would be quite constructive, if the three agencies got together every now and then and not share taxpayer-specific [data], but just aggregate trends, and just sit back and think, ‘Well, what are we seeing here? And why are we seeing this?’
“For example, in the debt space, why do we keep seeing this? And are there things that we might all think about, bringing a diversity of views together, things that we might all think about in order to find a better solution. So, that’s certainly something I’m keen to explore with the Tax Office and, indeed, the tax practitioners board.”
Ms Payne said her office was also keen to start publishing quarterly statistics on complaints that it receives, in a bid to encourage tax practitioners and their clients to come forward and share their experience.
While acknowledging that the IGTO is limited by significant funding constraints, including a single Sydney office with 30 staff to deal with the entire tax system, Ms Payne is still calling for more complaints to come through so it can take a business case to government.
“It’s a little bit like the chicken and egg problem: you can’t argue for more resources and more funding if you can’t demonstrate that you have a need for more resources and more funding.
“The quicker people understand how we can help and the more complainants that have coming to us, and the more the load and strain that we’ve got, then we can feed through and make a business case for better funding and better resourcing.”
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.