In releasing a report on his review of the ATO’s services and support for tax practitioners, IGT Ali Noroozi warned that practitioners' concerns would continue as the ATO updates its systems.
“The ATO has acknowledged the problems with the ATO Portals and is working toward a long-term solution by migrating to a new, more functional and flexible platform," Mr Noroozi said.
“Tax practitioner dissatisfaction with the current system is likely to persist in the short term given the ATO’s limited planned enhancements to the current system.”
The IGT also identified ATO communication with practitioners as a problem, recommending a number of improvements, including that the ATO user-test all standardised correspondence in future.
These shortcomings in the ATO's communication with tax practitioners, said Mr Noroozi, were particularly evident in its roll-out of the new lodgment program, which included a requirement that tax practitioners lodge 85 per cent of their clients’ returns on time.
“The rollout of the ATO’s Lodgment Program, including the ‘85 per cent rule’, raised significant concerns and created an impression that the ATO did not appreciate the challenges faced by tax practitioners or their practices. However, it has since acknowledged the concerns and clarified its communications,” he said.
“I have recommended a number of improvements to the ATO’s consultation arrangements with tax practitioners. If concerns persist, however, my office may undertake a broader review into ATO consultation arrangements."
In all, the IGT has made eight recommendations to which the ATO has fully or partially agreed.
“I believe that the appropriate implementation of my recommendations will lead to improvements in the relationship between tax practitioners and the ATO which will, in turn, have positive impacts on the tax system,” Mr Noroozi said.