Chartered Accountants ANZ (CA ANZ) has lodged a submission for the ANAO performance audit of the ATO’s engagement with tax agent based on members’ feedback.
In light of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic over the last few years, the ATO’s engagement with tax agents over this period has been a bit ‘hit and miss’. At a strategic level, ATO worked well with external stakeholders to implement the various Federal COVID-19 business support during 2020 and help tax agents manage their clients’ entitlements and tax obligations. However, the transition to ‘business-as-usual’ has been a difficult balancing act. Although the ATO (at senior levels) is still saying they are here to help support tax agents, the perception of the tax agents at the coal face is that the ATO staff on the ground are not getting the message.
On the ground, the most common issue with the ATO’s engagement with tax agents, or lack of engagement, is the push toward digitalising interactions with agents and their clients. Although, a source of frustration for many CAs has been the deficiencies in Online Services for Agents (OSfA), CAs generally do support the ATO’s focus on digitalisation interactions to streamline the process. Their concerns relate more to how the ATO is managing implementation.
In the submission, CA ANZ provides comments on:
- engagement through forums
- consultation on public guidance and advice
- response to tax agent enquiries
- dealings with the ATO
- Lodgment program
- ATO’s digital services for tax agents.