Speaking to AccountantsDaily, the ATO assistant commissioner Colin Walker said that tax agents and BAS agents are a very important part of Australia’s tax and super system.
“Something like 95 per cent plus of businesses choose to deal with us through an agent and somewhere around about 75 per cent of individuals choose to deal with us through an agent,” Mr Walker said.
“When you look at it from that perspective you can see that the ATO is very keen to build that relationship with the professionals and with professional associations that represent them.”
Mr Walker said that continuing to build the relationship between the ATO and tax agents will be a big focus for 2017 and 2018.
“The change that’s happening to the ATO is that we are not only recognising that reality, but beginning to ensure that we tailor our services to support that,” he said.
“It’s about providing services and support to the agent community to ensure that they are able to support their clients in administering the tax and super system.”
One way they are altering their approach is by getting accountants to be the middle man in relation to SME training.
“In the past going back a few years we would've considered that the ATO should deliver everything ourselves. That’s not the way we now think,” he said.
“There are a number of training packages that we are developing, that we will then provide to agents and they will deliver it to their clients as they see the need... rather than us going out and delivering them directly to their clients,” he said.
“So it's this change in emphasis to respect the relationship that the clients and the agents have.”
One such product currently being trialled is the Cash Flow Management Education Program, designed to allow agents and other advisors to present it to their SME clients to assist them to understand how they manage cash flow through their business.