Speaking on the ATO’s Tax professionals conversations webcast, deputy commissioner Colin Walker said that over the next three to four years, the Tax Office would be targeting practices and agents who inflate or make up deductions, as well as establish a pre-emptive program to prevent agents from travelling down that same path.
“What we want to do in the future – we've got a program to visit around 2,000 agents a year. Those agents who are being visited are because we have seen something that says to us in the future, they are going to run into some problems,” said Mr Walker.
“We want to provide some help at that time, work with the [Tax Practitioners] Board, work with the professional associations, probably the education institutions as well because there are capability issues at times to try and help them.
“It is not a compliance process, it is a process of help to work together to make sure there is support in those early stages where pressure starts to come so that we can actually do something today so they don't end up being a bad agent in the future.”
As announced in the budget, the ATO will be provided with $318.5 million over four years to implement new strategies to combat the black economy, including measures to target egregious tax practitioners who enable black economy activities.
“At all the open forums and various discussion groups that we go to, I see and hear a lot of frustrated agents who are good agents, they work hard, they follow the rules, they do the right thing and some are struggling to keep their clients because of this competition,” said Mr Walker.
“We want to do something about that, we want good agents and the vast majority of agents fit into that category without any problem at all and go in our green line.
“If you're seeing practises such as inflating deductions or making up deductions or agents operating in a way where they clearly don't have the knowledge of the law then you should come to us as well as the TPB because both sides are working together to sort out this problem.”
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Jotham Lian is the editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.
Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.