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‘ATO must build analytics, security onto strong digital base’

Tax

Tax 3.0 requires intelligent design and more investment, the Tax Commissioner says.

By Miranda Brownlee, Philip King 9 minute read

The ATO has strong digital foundations but much more investment is needed especially in data analytics and cyber security, Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan says.

“You can have one big data lake as it’s called but unless you match it to someone or an entity it’s useless. So, there’ll be a lot more investment in that space,” Mr Jordan told the Tax Institute Summit in Melbourne this week.

He said the ATO wanted the tax system to be “future-focused”, digital and data-driven.

“We need to continue down a data-driven pathway as we strive together towards the OECD’s Tax 3.0 where tax ‘just happens’.

“Tax 3.0 is our North Star – where reporting, payment and real-time compliance checks coincide with the taxable event.”

“The closer we get to real-time, event-based reporting and payment, there will be more certainty and less burden for everyone.”

“Through the introduction of Single Touch Payroll we have brought tax reporting to the point of event, so while Tax 3.0 might seem a distant future we’re already on the journey.

“However, tax ‘just happening’ won’t just happen, it will require intelligent co-design, and thoughtful collaboration and delivery.”

Mr Jordan said tax professionals would have an important role to play in helping to shape ATO systems.

“There is no benefit to the ATO designing a system that doesn’t work for tax professionals, the future is also collaborative. Together, we need to keep focusing on the ‘how’ questions: ‘How can we do it best?’ and ‘How can we achieve it together?’ ”

The Commissioner acknowledged that some tax agents had struggled to access the right people at the ATO and that the complaints system could be time-consuming and inefficient.

“The vast majority of things do go through the systems but there will always be the exception and typically it is something more complex or out of pattern with everything else we do,” he said.

“Hopefully we are getting better and we’re trying to resolve that and we’re ensuring that we’re measuring the right things.

“It used to be how quick is the average phone call, but it should be how quickly can you resolve the problem rather than palming it off onto someone else.”

“I apologise if people are still finding friction and difficulties but we are trying to streamline.”

It would be impossible for the ATO to maintain the current level of phone staff and other channels were available.

“It’s up to us to make sure that this new platform for our web system provides a better look and feel and an easier search,” he said.

But he admitted that wait times for ATO web pages had been increasing and some ATO resources were stretched.

“We don’t have the resources as much as we used to do certain things. We have to continue to invest in cyber security and identity theft,” he said.

“IT theft was always a bill but it’s now becoming industrialised.”

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