Addressing the Tax Institute National Convention, Commissioner Jordan publicly acknowledged the failures of the ATO in its product design and implementation, echoing the thoughts of Assistant Commissioner Colin Walker in 2015, who noted that communication from the Tax Office has often been contradictory and conflicting.
“I want to acknowledge that we haven’t always got it right from our end,” the Commissioner said.
“In our enthusiasm to deliver, we haven’t designed some solutions in partnership with you. I know for example, the portal and Client Correspondence List have been problematic.”
In response to the much maligned portal implementation, Commissioner Jordan stated that alongside the roll-out of a new practitioner lodgement service for tax time 2016, online services would be implemented in an attempt to “fix, supplement or replace” the existing portal in preparation for tax time 2017.
Commissioner Jordan called upon tax agents to collaborate with the Tax Office as it strives to implement change; instead of “griping in TaxVine or on social media”.
“We need you to engage with us to design solutions to meet your needs and those of your clients.”
“The ATO’s online systems are so heavily relied on by taxpayers and their agents that there is little margin for error,” noted Arthur Athanasiou, president of The Tax Institute, who also emphasised his desire for online services, which are more user-friendly and require less ATO assistance.
“It is a courageous move from the Commissioner to publicly commit to improving these services by this time next year.”