ATO automation requires patience

ATO SMSF Association

The ATO is working towards increasing its use of technology, but the industry needs to be realistic as to how long it will take for this to happen.

Industry expectations regarding the automation or more procedures by the ATO need to be realistic and reasonable, the SMSF Association has said.

During a panel session at the Thought Leadership Breakfast that marked the beginning of the SMSF Association National Conference 2022 in Adelaide today, association chief executive John Maroney said he did not believe innovations such as pre-populated tax returns from the ATO were unachievable, but the sector had to be patient as to when the development might materialise.

“I don’t think it’s a pipedream, but these things will take time. The tax office is a very large, multi-faceted organisation and superannuation is a relatively small part of what it does,” Maroney noted.

“Our understanding is its priorities are forever getting adjusted to the latest revenue-raising activity rather than what we’d like to see them put a little bit more priority into – some of the customer service [aspects and] the superannuation system is now part of it.

“I think that’s an important ongoing conversation, but that will take years rather than months, but it is worthwhile pursuing.”

He revealed his experience indicated the ATO is receptive to conversations about increasing the use of technology and that progress is being made in this area that may not be entirely obvious on the surface.

“The government published a data strategy in January, there’s a digital economy strategy, [so] there [is] a lot of work going on behind the scenes. It’s not just the government per se, it’s the Treasury Department, so there’s a lot of work going in behind this, the review of the payments system, so a lot of the building blocks are being put in place,” he said.

“If we look [forward over the next] three to five years, we should be able to [see] a lot of progress.”

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