Inspector-General of Taxation Report
It has been another busy year for the office of the Inspector-General of Taxation (IGT).
I am pleased to report that complaints handling is now well and truly our bedrock service which directly assists the community. In addition, our review work continues apace. My previous work program concluded with the release of the Taxpayers’ Charter and protections1 and Employer obligations2 reports. At the same time we developed the current work program3 which was publicly announced on 27 January 2017, following broad-based community consultation. We have already commenced the three reviews to which we have committed in the current program.
As foreshadowed last year, we are now realising the opportunities presented to us by the insights drawn from complaint investigations. Two of the current reviews have been undertaken largely as a result of themes emerging from complaints. These are the reviews into the Pay As You Go (PAYG) instalments system4 and Goods and Services Tax (GST) refund verification.5 We have also commenced our first ‘own initiative’6 investigation which may be activated at any time in response to emerging needs. In this instance, it was in response to complaints made about the Australian Taxation Office’s (ATO) management of tax evasion referrals made by the public.
The third review that we have commenced this year is the Future of the tax profession.7 This review is forward looking, aiming to seize opportunities and address challenges ahead by anticipating technological, social, policy and regulatory changes and forward planning to achieve optimal outcomes for all parties. It is being conducted at the request of the Commissioner of Taxation (Commissioner) as well as in response to concerns raised by a range of stakeholders, particularly tax practitioners.
A fourth review has also been launched into the ATO’s fraud control management,8 at the request of the Senate Economics References Committee (Economics Committee) and in response to broad community concerns, following significant media attention on allegations of tax fraud that may have been linked to a senior ATO officer.
Further maturation of our complaints handling service has also led to direct improvements to tax administration through the ATO and Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) implementing Agreed Business Improvements (ABIs) without the need to conduct broader reviews. We are also effectively managing the increase in the number of complaints and their growing complexity as more taxpayers and tax practitioners become aware of and are satisfied with our services. It is a pleasing result for the community and the tax system.
Some of our other activities include assisting parliamentary committees such as the Economics Committee with its inquiry into ‘The impact of non-payment of the Superannuation Guarantee (SG)’9 and the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Tax and Revenue (Tax and Revenue Committee) with its inquiry into ‘Taxpayer engagement with the tax system’10 by lodging detailed submissions and giving further evidence at public hearings. In doing so, we have drawn on our independent expertise and experience in the tax and superannuation systems.
In the midst of the work above, we moved to new premises without any disruption to the services that we provide to the community. I would like to thank my staff for their hard work over the last year and also for the smooth transition to our new premises.
Inspector-General of Taxation
1 Inspector-General of Taxation (IGT), Review into the Taxpayers’ Charter and taxpayer protections (2016).
2 IGT, Review into the ATO’s employer obligations compliance activities (2017).
6 Pursuant to paragraph 7(1)(c) of the Inspector-General of Taxation Act 2003 (IGT Act).