Business News

Tax office revamps consultation process

The Superannuation Industry Advisory Group (SIAG) will meet for the first time today in Sydney to discuss strategic issues affecting self-managed superannuation funds (SMSF).

The group is part of the Australian Taxation Office’s (ATO) latest consultation arrangements aimed at streamlining its information gathering and sharing processes after the National Tax Liaison Group was disbanded earlier this year.

ATO assistant commissioner Stuart Forsyth said the tax office had decided to cut the number of consultation committees it chaired from 68 under the previous arrangements to eight.

“There were an enormous number of consultative committees and there was a view that there were too many … each committee comes with an overhead and they can sometimes loop past their effectiveness,” Forsyth said.

The SIAG, which replaces the Superannuation Consultative Committee (SCC), is one of the eight groups, and includes 13 members of industry plus government representatives from the ATO, Australian Securities and Investments Commission, Australian Prudential Regulation Authority and Treasury along with the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal and the Department of Human Services.

Several members of the SCC have missed out on selection for the SIAG, including accounting bodies the Institute of Public Accountants, National Tax & Accountants Association and Association of Taxation and Management Accountants, as well as superannuation administrators National Australia Bank and Pillar Administration.

“Change is never easy, but this is a good move because the previous form [of consultation, the SCC] had become very big,” Forsyth said.

The SIAG will focus on high-level talks about superannuation laws and matters affecting the overall super system’s sustainability.

Its membership is restricted to the heads of the participant bodies. For example, SMSF Professionals’ Association of Australia chief executive Andrea Slattery will represent the SMSF industry on the panel, while FPA chief Mark Rantall will provide a financial advice perspective. Many of the SCC members had more operational-level roles.

The ATO expects the SIAG to meet only two to three times a year, although additional meetings will be held if necessary.

Forsyth said further consultation would be sought outside of the SIAG forum through direct liaison with industry. “The commissioner’s message is: ‘More consultation; but do it directly with industry bodies. Less meetings; more out there in people’s boardrooms talking to them about what they want to talk about,’” he said.

A separate group, known as the Superannuation Industry Relationship Network (SIRN), will be established in early 2014 to update the broader industry on the ATO’s work on SMSFs and to allow a wider range of industry representatives to provide feedback. It is expected to meet around March 2014.

Special purpose groups with limited lifespans will be established to discuss specific issues, such as how to implement new legislation, on an as-needed basis.

Industry stakeholders wishing to participate in the SIRN or the special purpose groups can register their interest on the ATO’s website.

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