Practitioners, professional associations, software providers and the ATO recently met in Canberra where the tax office revealed that automation and pre-filling is about to be aggressively adopted and put on the fast-track.
Taxpayers Australia said the ATO is aiming to work with commercial software providers so that even as soon as 2016, information from banks, share registries and various other databases will be fed directly to the tax office, enabling automatic pre-filling on a huge scale, according to the industry group.
Mark Chapman, head of tax at Taxpayers Australia, said he believes the ATO’s plans are possibly too ambitious.
“The use of integrated software to link businesses and the tax office with banks and tax practitioners is fine in theory, but bearing in mind the adage about ‘garbage in, garbage out’, the tax office needs to be aware that there will still be a role for tax experts and accountants to ensure the correct information is being transmitted.”
“And given that the burden of providing correct data ultimately rests with the taxpayer, it is likely that they’ll still be employing professionals to do that verification. However, for those tax agents who are strongly dependant on the production of basic business and individual tax returns, and who don’t have the skills to make the change, the end could be nigh.”
According to Taxpayers Australia the practitioner of the future will need to be more like a chief financial officer for their clients.
“Marketplace demands will also see practitioners having to shift their focus to become more tax-technical professionals, necessarily focusing more on tax planning, advisory work and validation of information,” a statement from Taxpayers Australia read.
“They will need the skills that go with this territory, or risk becoming irrelevant in a tax landscape that the tax office is actively moulding to its own vision.”