In a recent online poll of 202 accountants conducted by AccountantsDaily, 37 per cent said they are worried SBR will decrease total revenue over the next two years.
In response, the IPA’s senior tax adviser, Tony Greco, told AccountantsDaily that while SBR could automate much compliance work, accountants should not be worried about it costing them revenue any time soon.
“The ATO has made it quite clear that they see an opportunity for [software to send data] direct from the client straight to the ATO and [to] bypass the accountant, but we see that as a long way off,” he said.
“There are obviously a lot of businesses that wouldn’t want that to happen.”
Mr Greco said many business owners want the security provided by seeking advice from a trained professional when dealing with the ATO.
“They want the intermediaries, i.e. the tax agent, the trusted adviser, to be involved in that process. We don’t see a lot of business wanting to transfer data direct to the tax office. I don’t think we are there yet and won’t be there for some time. I think it’s just one of those things that businesses don’t feel confident doing.”
In addition, Mr Greco said the tax office would need to adjust its own processes significantly if businesses’ tax information did not first pass through a qualified intermediary on its way to the ATO. Currently, he said, tax agents act a filters as well as making sure clients comply with the law.
“If you were to allow businesses to report directly to the ATO, they’re going to have to clean up the mess because businesses just don’t appreciate what they need to do from a tax perspective, putting the right things in the right buckets etc etc. You’re just going to get garbage in and garbage out if you don’t have that filter," he said.
“Everything is being automated. A lot of processing work is being automated but you still need the accountant to make sure things are stocked in the right bucket, you still need someone to make sure the business complies with tax laws, and there will still be all of those opportunities for accountants."