ATO commissioner Chris Jordan said a practice built on supplying “simple returns” is questionable, after being pushed about accountants’ struggles with competing commercially against the ATO’s free products for self-lodgers.
ATO boss doubtful of ‘low complexity, high volume’ practices
Digital services for tax agents are in the top four priorities for the ATO, Mr Jordan told delegates at the Institute of Public Accountants’ National Congress on the Gold Coast last week.
This promise follows another shaky year for the ATO’s digital systems, with the tax and BAS agent community dealing with the December outages hangovers well into the early months of 2017. It also follows a significant delay in the rollout of new systems which were promised this time last year and a fumbling start to tax time in July.
One accountant told Mr Jordan it’s a difficult ask to compete with the ATO’s free products when government tools at accountants’ disposal have a persistent history of instability and degraded performance.
“If your business is low complexity, high volume simple returns, you’ve got to question your business model,” he said. “myTax is an offering for people who do returns and it’s a good product.”
Mr Jordan said the evolution of technology and data sharing will continue to have a profound impact on the way the ATO regulates Australia’s tax and superannuation system. He believes these same changes are likely to impact accountants with practices that do not adapt to resulting changing consumer patterns and cross-border relations.
“These changes and demands are likely to impact the practices of all accountants, and they will challenge those with a business model of low complexity, low margin and high volume,” Mr Jordan said.
“The ATO is not driving these trends, they exist in the private and public sectors, in our personal lives, and also the lives of our children,” he said.
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