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  • Working with the tax profession

    The ATO and tax profession work together to provide expert services that help Australians and business succeed.

    In Australia, tax professionals have a critical role in the tax and superannuation systems. They are intermediaries, conduits and influencers of behaviour, providing expert advice to clients to meet their obligations.

    Taxpayers can choose to use a tax professional to help them meet their taxation and superannuation obligations or deal directly with the ATO to seek advice and self-prepare. It is recognised that most Australians use the services of a registered tax or BAS agent. They choose to do so for a variety of reasons including time, complexity and the peace of mind of having a professional managing their affairs. Many agents provide holistic, value-added services that support their clients to succeed; often preparation of taxation forms is only a minor part of their overall service.

    The ATO has always provided services for taxpayers who wish to interact directly with it. The ATO will continue to offer a contemporary service directly to those taxpayers who choose to manage their own taxation and superannuation affairs.

    Both the ATO and the tax profession work together to help individual Australians and businesses to prosper, while meeting their various tax (and other regulatory) obligations. The ATO and the tax profession depend on each other for success, working together to ensure the proper operation of the tax and super systems for our community.

    Principles for working together effectively

    • The ATO and the tax profession recognise the value to Australia of a high performing tax system
    • The ATO and the tax profession take responsibility for developing the necessary expertise to support their respective roles in the tax and superannuation systems
    • The ATO and the tax profession act ethically and professionally, fostering mutual trust and respect
    • The ATO and the tax profession operate with integrity and transparency in their interactions to ensure community confidence and willing compliance in the tax system
    • Clients can choose to use a tax professional or interact directly with the ATO – materials and services are designed to reflect this choice
    • Services offered by the ATO and the tax profession:
      • are contemporary
      • are designed collaboratively to suit the needs of the majority
      • aim to improve productivity and viability for businesses and the community
      • allow clients to meet a variety of regulatory obligations – following the ‘write once, use many’ tenet
      • are provided early and upstream to help people get it right from the start
      • keep people connected and aware of where things stand.

    The future

    Administration of the tax and superannuation systems will change in the coming years because of:

    • greater automation and digital business
    • increased transparency through data sharing between taxpayers, third parties and government
    • reduction in transactional requirements
    • whole-of-government services.

    Challenges and opportunities

    As both the ATO and tax profession modernise, new products and services will need to be co-designed to suit the majority, recognising that most taxpayers choose to use the services of a tax professional. New products and services will aim to integrate with the existing systems tax professionals use and provide a balance of wholesale and retail services.

    Tax professionals have significant levels of expertise and experience. The future may create opportunities for the ATO and the profession to work more closely together on specific opportunities and pieces of work, leveraging the tax profession’s experience, expertise and relationship with the community.

    Many tax professionals have already diversified their services and can clearly demonstrate to their clients the value-added offer they provide. A small number that continue to operate a traditional low complexity tax preparation model will be impacted by future changes.

      Last modified: 05 Apr 2017QC 51669