Tax & Super Australia (TSA) has called for the ATO to consider tax agent feedback about its lodgement program after a TSA member survey showed that the program caused nearly two thirds of tax agents stress, and most believe the Inspector General of Taxation should review the ATO’s administration of it.
Nearly 450 TSA tax agent members responded to the July survey. When asked if the program caused them stress, the highest proportion (35%) of respondents said it caused them “a great deal of stress”. This was followed by 31% who found it “somewhat stressful” and 21% who found it “occasionally stressful”. Just 11% of respondents said it did not cause them any stress.
Further, when asked if the ATO understood the pressures that tax agents face to meet lodgement targets, the vast majority (77%) said it didn’t.
TSA tax counsel John Jeffreys said the number of tax agents reporting stress around the program was too high. “We note that the COVID-19 pandemic has added extra pressure to tax agents in terms of lodgement activities, but there are ongoing pain points in the program that tax agents still have to navigate. Most of these result from difficulties that tax agents have when dealing with the ATO.”
When asked if the Inspector General of Taxation/Taxation Ombudsman should review the way the ATO administers the program, the highest proportion of respondents (68%) believed they should, compared to 17% who said this wasn’t needed and about 13% who were unsure.
Members thought the lodgement program works effectively from an ATO perspective (46%) although 34% disagreed.
Members were almost evenly split on whether the 85% tax return lodgement target was an effective way to ensure that tax returns are lodged on time – 45% said it was, 45% said it wasn’t, and 10% were unsure.
In terms of their ability to meet the 85% lodgement target, 70% said getting clients to supply accurate information on time was key, while a further 26% said this was “mostly” the case.
“We are aware that the ATO is reviewing the lodgement program and appreciate that this is a big undertaking,” Mr Jeffreys said. “However, during recent years our members have seen their roles and work expand due to increased compliance, an evolving tax system and now the COVID-19 pandemic.” (Continued next page)
“It’s important that the administration of the lodgement program has the capacity to respond to ensure it remains as efficient and effective for both sides as possible.”
Mr Jeffreys said tax agents continue to play a vital role in helping individuals and businesses correctly navigate the tax landscape, and that any efficiencies in the lodgement program and dealings between tax agents and the ATO would be welcomed.
For further comment, please contact TSA tax counsel John Jeffreys:
Mobile: 0416 250 461 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org