Commissioner of Taxation Chris Jordan has outlined the ATO’s key objectives for the years ahead, which include building on its relationship with those in the tax profession.
‘The ATO is here for you’: Commissioner Chris Jordan reiterates support for tax profession
In his commissioner’s address to the 2021 Tax Institute Tax Summit, Chris Jordan paid tribute to the tireless work carried out by members of the tax profession during an 18-month period of “transformative” change.
“One of the things I have been most proud of during this time is the strong relationship we have with the tax profession, and our shared commitment to supporting the community. You have been vital in helping clients navigate government stimulus measures and changes to the tax system, and we have appreciated everything you have done,” Mr Jordan said.
“Despite the challenges of the last 18 months, at the ATO we have remained committed to our transformation. That commitment is what put us in a strong position to deliver such a huge stimulus program in a short space of time, and it has meant we have continued making progress in a complex and ever-changing environment.
“...I know many of you are tired – tired of change, tired of uncertainty and large workloads – but the ATO is here for you. Every change we make or piece of guidance we issue is about strengthening the system and making things easier for you and your clients, so we need you on this journey with us.”
Mr Jordan also used the opportunity to address several strategic initiatives the Tax Office would be focusing on until 2024.
The first, he said, will see the ATO place a big emphasis on how it partners with the profession.
“We have provided extra time for clients to lodge and pay, remitted certain interest and penalties, given you access to low interest payment plans on behalf of your clients and allowed some flexibility with PAYG instalments,” Mr Jordan explained.
“I know many of you are worried about your lodgment program, but you won’t be adversely impacted if you don’t meet the requirements. We use this benchmark so you can understand where you sit in comparison to your peers, and so we can better understand who may need some extra help from us.
“We’ve learnt the best way to help is to work with you to tailor a solution to suit your needs and those of your clients, whether that is a deferral for a small number of your clients, or more tailored support for long-term difficulties.”
Another key focus area for the ATO is remaining committed to its transformation program, according to Mr Jordan.
“While continuing to support you and your clients in any way we can, we have also remained committed to our transformation program. It’s what allowed us to deliver through the pandemic and it’s our transformation that will prepare us for future challenges – whatever they will be. That’s why we kept our focus on this important work,” he said.
“At the core of our transformation is the vision of making it easier, cheaper, and safer for the tax profession, businesses and individuals to interact with government. The ATO is taking a lead role in delivering better whole-of-government services for the Australian community.”
Central to this, Mr Jordan said, is the introduction of the Australian Business Registry Services (ABRS) platform, whereby new director identification requirements will be housed.
“The new director identification number, or ‘director ID’, is the first service offered by the ABRS, available in public beta from next month. The tax profession has played a vital role in shaping private beta trials and helping us get to this point,” he explained.
“By verifying the identities of all directors, director ID will go a significant way towards combatting illegal phoenixing and creating a fairer environment for honest business.
“Directors will soon be able to apply, so I ask you all to make sure you are ready to support your clients as needed. Similar to a TFN, they need to apply for it themselves. It is free to apply, and directors who apply online will receive their director ID instantly.”
E-invoicing is another major initiative in standardising digital business interactions, Mr Jordan flagged, noting that “exchanging invoices via business software will remove manual intervention and help make businesses more efficient, boost their cashflow and the productivity of the overall economy”.
“The ATO is working with all levels of government, intermediaries and businesses to raise awareness of the new way to send and receive invoices and how to get on board. The ATO is leading this initiative because we have the right experience delivering large scale change for business, like STP and JobKeeper, not because e-invoicing has a tax compliance objective. Encourage your clients to get on board – it will make doing business easier and smarter,” he said.
“As you know, MyGovID and Relationship Authorisation Manager already make engaging with us easier. These services were both critical in businesses applying for a range of stimulus measures and allowed clients to work from home and still access our digital services. The next step is ‘Strong myGovID’. It incorporates liveness detection and face verification technology to strengthen myGovID to a higher level. It will also make interacting with the tax system easier by allowing Australians to access higher risk and higher value services online and in real-time, like the online TFN application.”
More to come.