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ATO's use of technology hurting accountants' productivity

An overwhelming majority of accountants say they are losing productivity because of the way the ATO is using technology.

News Michael Masterman 21 October 2015
— 1 minute read

In a recent poll conducted by AccountantsDaily, 80.4 per cent of 404 respondents answered yes when asked: As an accountant are you experiencing loss of productivity due to the use of technology by the ATO?

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Discussing the results, the IPA’s general manager, technical policy, Tony Greco said this is a real problem for the industry, highlighting the ATO portal as an area of real concern.

“The transformation of the tax office into being able to do everything through a digital platform is good, we don’t want to say that that’s a bad thing, it’s just when it’s done at the expense of the practitioners, then it’s not so good,” Mr Greco said.

“Everyone has acknowledged the ATO portal is a system which was built a long time ago and it’s just not up to industry standards; it’s slow, unresponsive, [and] difficult to use.”

Mr Greco said the ATO’s attempt to increase its efficiency through digitalisation is stretching the portal beyond its capability “and that’s the problem”.

“The ATO portal itself can’t cope with what it has been asked to do.”

Mr Greco said the ATO should be increasing their digital interactions but without the appropriate IT to support it, “they shouldn’t be offloading efficiencies at someone else’s cost”.

“This has been flagged with the commissioner and he understands the sensitivity now so what he has tried to do is tell his people that when [they] roll-out anything now, [they should] asses its impact on a practitioner's work practices before [they] do anything because [the ATO doesn't] want to overburden them with problems more than [they] need to.”

According to Mr Greco, the IPA is pleased the ATO has committed to minimising the impacts of their digital push on accountants.

“We are happy that they are going to minimise the impacts of them becoming more efficient and we have that commitment that they'll take into account, and go and talk to small accountants and basically asses what impacts any future roll-out of technology will have on their work practices; and try to minimise its impact so it’s not coming at someone else’s expense.”

ATO's use of technology hurting accountants' productivity
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