Business News

ATO improves industry consultation approach

The Australian Taxation Office’s (ATO) new industry consultation framework is to date working effectively, according to one industry participant.

Late in 2013, the regulator disbanded the National Tax Liaison Group (NTLG) and replaced it with two new forums, the Superannuation Industry Advisory Group (SIAG) and the Superannuation Industry Relationship Network (SIRN).

When asked if the new bodies were working well, Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia head of superannuation and forum participant Liz Westover said “cautiously yes”.

“I think it’s been great that they engage with us through that forum [SIRN] on issues like zero interest related-party loans, but I guess the concern whenever you change any system is some things may fall through the cracks and it’s probably too early to know if this is the case,” Westover said.

“But certainly the fact that they’ve been able to go to this database of people who operate in this space, have an expertise, and they’re able to call them in at fairly short notice and engage with them is a real positive.”

She said the new forums were better because fewer people were invited to participate than was the case with the NTLG.

“The old groups were huge and there were a lot of people around the table and that made good discussion more difficult,” she said.

“These are smaller groups and they are tailored to specific needs, so you’re always going to get a better outcome from that.”

The SIAG is now considered the peak industry forum, comprising individuals such as chief executives of a variety of organisations.

The SIRN operates slightly differently as any industry participant can apply to be a part of it by registering and detailing what their particular skill set is. Then as issues arise the ATO contacts those individuals who are experts on the said matter and engages them in a roundtable discussion.

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