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‘Stop bashing accountants,’ ATO told after commissioner’s smackdown

‘Stop bashing accountants,’ ATO told after commissioner’s smackdown

The ATO boss’ public slammings of tax agents has struck a nerve with some accountants, who feel they’ve been unfairly grouped with a few bad eggs.

Professional Development Katarina Taurian 12 April 2018
— 1 minute read

ATO commissioner Chris Jordan has issued a long line of public warnings to tax agents about inappropriate work-related claims this tax time.

Often on a national stage, Mr Jordan has made broad and aggressive comments about dodgy tax agents, including some late last month where he questioned the status of tax agents as “guardians of the system.”

For accountants like Timothy Munro, founder at Change Accountants & Advisers, these comments risk tarring all tax agents with the same brush.

“It’s a shame that good accountants are tarnished when our clients read this stuff from the ATO in mainstream media,” Mr Munro said.

“No matter how good our relationships are with them, clients do wonder: is my accountant doing the right or the wrong thing?” he said.

“Why doesn’t the ATO take the positive approach and applaud tax agents doing the right thing? Because so many are,” he said.

The Inspector-General of Taxation, Ali Noroozi, also knocked Mr Jordan’s latest outburst without complete data supporting his claims.

“It perhaps wasn't the most prudent course of action. It would have been best to have released the facts at the same time,” Mr Noroozi said while fronting a standing committee on tax and revenue earlier this month.

“I think it would have been preferable for the facts to have been shared and the basis for which those comments were made when they were made. It's a relationship that can, at times, be fragile."

ATO in the firing line

The ATO’s culture and debt collection procedures will soon be subject to a federal government investigation, following a Fairfax Media and Four Corners report about its approach to recovering revenue from small businesses.

So far, the ATO has vehemently opposed a culture of wrongdoing.

“The media have taken a handful of isolated cases, presented only one side of the story, and then extrapolated these to suggest systemic issues with our administration of the tax and super systems,” it said in a statement this week.

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‘Stop bashing accountants,’ ATO told after commissioner’s smackdown
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