Practitioner services a key priority: ATO

Box being ticked.

The ATO is fully committed to improving its services for tax practitioners.

The ATO has reaffirmed its commitment to providing improved services and removing any irritants to tax agents as it works closely with the industry to get future initiatives and strategies right.

“I want to assure you that I am very much committed to giving tax practitioners a quality service,” ATO commissioner Chris Jordan told the Institute of Public Accountants’ 2017 National Congress on the Gold Coast last week.

“Your experience with us does matter to me and to the executives.

“In fact, we’ve listed services for tax agents among our top four investment priorities for this year and I now have weekly meetings for the key people in the tax practitioner space and the ATO to monitor progress, hear about the insights and understand any other new issues.

“And I will continue to personally monitor the progress of service improvements to you, for both the immediate and longer term.”

Jordan said the regulator was in constant consultation to more effectively implement and test future initiatives.

“So this service improvement program has been well informed by our consultation groups, our monthly tax practitioner experience surveys and ongoing one-on-one visits to practitioners in their workplace to try to understand their experience firsthand,” he said.

“We’ve conducted nearly 250 of these onsite visits to tax agents over the past few months to understand what is happening, what works for them and what doesn’t, and whether we can do anything to fix problems.

“Some issues may relate to something so obscure and the incidents will be so uncommon that we will always simply have to manage by doing workarounds – no system will cover every possible permutation of a situation.”

He acknowledged that while the current strategies and initiatives were working well and the ATO had made some progress, it “clearly still had a lot more to do”.

“Because true and comprehensive transformation does take many years, particularly in larger organisations,” he said.

“But we are in this for the long haul.

“I do want to have a tax administration that focuses on client experience, making things easier for people, paying attention to material matters, recognising, importantly, that time does have a cost, where our decisions are clearly understood by taxpayers and our activities are not an unnecessary drain on the productivity of our nation.”

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