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  • About us

    The Commissioner of Taxation is responsible for administering Australia’s tax system and significant aspects of Australia’s superannuation system, and operates as the Australian Government’s principal revenue collection agency. We administer legislation governing tax, and support the delivery of government benefits to the community.

    As a Commonwealth entity within the Treasury portfolio, we are accountable under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act) and the Public Service Act 1999 (PS Act). For the purposes of the PGPA Act, the Commissioner is the accountable authority for the ATO.

    A brief history

    The face of taxation has changed dramatically since the ATO was established as a branch of the Treasury in 1910.

    The first taxes were collected under the Bank Notes Tax Act 1910, followed by the Land Tax Act 1910 and Land Tax Assessment Act 1910. The first Commissioner of Land Taxation was appointed on 11 November 1910, and positions for the first 33 tax officers were advertised a month later. The first tax assessment forms were described as ‘formidable-looking’ documents, and taxpayers were threatened with significant fines for failing to send in their returns, paying late, or submitting false information.

    By comparison, today the ATO is committed to making it easier for people to interact with the tax and superannuation systems. We have implemented a program of helping people to get their taxes right. We have a Taxpayers' Charter outlining our commitment to helping clients understand their rights and entitlements and meet their obligations.

    We understand that we cannot audit our way to success. While audits will always be a regular activity in our program of work, the majority of our efforts have to be on helping people get things right – effective preventative and ‘upstream’ work, including quality guidance, warnings and early engagement. Regardless of what kind of interaction people are having with the ATO, the client experience is paramount – we must be constructive, transparent and respectful.

    Our programs

    In 2016–17, the ATO had one outcome and was funded to deliver the outcome through four agency programs and sixteen administered programs:

    • Program 1.1 Australian Taxation Office (ATO)
    • Program 1.2 Tax Practitioners Board (TPB)
    • Program 1.3 Australian Business Register (ABR)
    • Program 1.4 Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC).

    All deliverables for the administered programs are achieved through making payments to eligible recipients in accordance with relevant laws.

      Last modified: 30 Oct 2017QC 53581