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‘We can't stay outside of this software world’: Tax agents called to lead change


The Tax Office is seeing a change in the industry conversations around accounting software from one of fear to optimism, given the inevitability of digital growth.  

By Jotham Lian 10 minute read

Speaking on the ATO’s tax professionals webcast, ATO director Ben Spargo said he has seen a positive shift in the mindset of agents, who once feared that technology would replace their jobs.

“In 2017 we were all worried that the crypto trading and artificial intelligence bots were going to take away our jobs and we would be left with nothing but in 2018 we’ve seen a little bit of re-evaluation of some of the technology that is out there and that is that people are starting to understand what the technology can deliver and how it can assist the business,” said Mr Spargo.

“If there’s one main message – it is not coming to replace your job, it is coming to support you – the best accountants that I have heard and met are using technology to support them to deliver more effective and better services for their clients and to meet their changing client expectations as well.”


ATO assistant commissioner, Colin Walker said that as the profession contemplates its future, it was vital for agents to accept that change would be “dynamic and will continue to happen”.

“Let's sort of grow up a little bit and say, yes the world is changing, yes we can’t stay outside of this software world but let’s also take the time to learn about how to make it work for us because that is how we are going to add value,” said Mr Walker.

“The more you understand about your software, the more you will be able to challenge your amazing software developer to create something better for you to create those modules on the side that allow you to add that special value.”

Mr Walker also highlighted four challenges he believes agents will face in the near future, namely remaining competitive, maintaining client relationships, collaborating with other professionals, and being able to get clients on board with the evolving digital landscape.

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Jotham Lian

Jotham Lian


Jotham Lian is the editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.

Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.

You can email Jotham at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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