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  • Meeting our goals

    We contribute to the economic and social wellbeing of Australians by fostering willing participation in the GST system. We are:

    making it easy for people to participate

    We support businesses by making it quicker, easier and cheaper to transact with us.

    We focus on making it as easy as possible for people to engage with the GST system and to get things right. Our education and support products include practical information on GST registration requirements, reporting, and setting aside money to pay GST. Our webinars cover the same sort of content as our face-to-face presentations, enabling us to reach a much wider audience in a cost effective way. Detailed and specific web content, supplemented by videos, educates, supports and enables businesses in meeting their GST obligations. Areas covered include classification of items, record keeping, payments and reporting.

    In 2015–16 we:

    • provided more support for new businesses to help them get it right from the start, including sending 'new to business essentials' emails to all new registrants during their first year in business
    • delivered over 430 webinars: the GST margin scheme webinar had over 1,500 people subscribing to attend
    • delivered tax essentials and record keeping workshops to over 12,000 small businesses
    • extended our after-hours web chat for extra help at a time that suits businesses
    • entered into a partnership with Business Enterprise Centre Australia to deliver ATO education products to small businesses
    • launched Alex, our new virtual assistant on ato.gov.au; Alex helps clients find information and supports them when they need it, not just when our call centres are open
    • enhanced our services for individual and sole traders to manage lodgment, payment and revision of activity statements online.

    We are reducing the amount of GST information required for the business activity statement (BAS). A simpler BAS will give small businesses significant time and cost savings by simplifying account set up, GST record keeping and BAS preparation. Businesses will be able to more easily classify transactions and prepare and lodge their BAS. We will user test the proposed changes with small businesses, tax professionals and software developers to ensure we get it right during 2016–17. From 1 July 2017, small businesses will only need to report GST on sales (1A), GST on purchases (1B) and total sales (G1).

    Figure 1: Proposed simplified BAS approach

    Figure 1: Proposed simplified BAS approach A simpler set-up of accounting software equates to fewer classification codes for GST transactions resulting in reduced labels for BAS reporting.

    delivering contemporary and tailored services

    As a contemporary organisation, we provide convenient and accessible services, tailored according to risk, for our clients and intermediaries.

    In 2015–16 we:

    • released a business performance check tool which enables business operators to compare their performance with others in the same industry; it also provides an indication of their ability to pay their debts
    • conducted a trial of field visits to promote the use of digital services by small businesses located in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide who were lodging paper activity statements; 53% of those contacted are now lodging electronically
    • expanded our digital services for sole traders to view activity statement accounts and pay activity statement debts online
    • proactively assisted businesses experiencing financial difficulties due to challenging conditions, including businesses adversely impacted by the external administration of Arrium and falling milk prices across the Australian dairy industry.

    We commenced a pilot program where we issued assurance notifications to low risk GST clients. These notifications acknowledged taxpayers for their ongoing compliance with the Australian taxation law and are for information only. We also provided tax agents with a list of their clients that received the notifications. We issued over 17,000 notifications providing assurance on GST (for the March 2016 or June 2016 quarterly BAS) or income tax and GST (for the 2013 and 2014 income tax years plus the March 2016 quarterly BAS).

    ensuring purposeful and respectful relationships

    The quality of our relationships with the community, government, our stakeholders and scrutineers can influence the overall effectiveness of the ATO and outcomes for the GST system.

    As part of our commitment to improving services in regional and remote communities, we have continued to partner with the Department of Human Services on board the Mobile Service Centre. The Mobile Service Centre travels throughout regional Australia assisting clients. We visited 332 towns on board the mobile service centre in 2015–16, speaking with over 3,100 clients.

    a professional and productive organisation

    Delivering our change agenda and business improvements is about transforming our words into actions. It is about leading and managing well, and mobilising and motivating our people.

    We continue to transform and simplify our information and communications technology environment to support streamlined and seamless services. We are driving the development of a more agile and skilled workforce, capable of delivering applications to support the community and the organisation.

    We are focused on embedding cultural change, so that client focus, service ethic, sensible risk management and outcome orientation are the norm and are reflected in everything we do.

      Last modified: 20 Apr 2017QC 51810