Consultation Steering Group meeting minutes 29 November 2013

Meeting details


Australian Taxation Office
Latitude East, Level 12, Room 706
52 Goulburn Street






Sue Sinclair, First Assistant Commissioner, ATO Corporate


Gerry Antioch, General Manager, Tax System Division, Treasury


Annalissa Alexander


(02) 6216 6406


Andrew England

First Assistant Commissioner, Integrated Tax Design, ATO

Jonathan Woodger

Acting Chief Tax Counsel, ATO

Kerry O'Loghlin

Acting Deputy Commissioner, Tax Practitioner and Lodgment Strategy, ATO

Peter Coakley

Assistant Commissioner, ATO Corporate

Frank Drenth

Corporate Tax Association

Robert Jeremenko

The Tax Institute

Mark Friezer

Law Council of Australia

Michael Croker

Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia

Bryce Prosser

CPA Australia

Andrea Slattery

SMSF Professionals Association of Australia

Tony Greco

Institute of Public Accountants

Bob Duncan

Association of Taxation and Management Accountants


Deepti Paton

Director, ATO Consultation Hub


Mark Morris

CPA Australia

Peter Strong

Council of Small Business of Australia

Opening remarks

Sue Sinclair welcomed members to the inaugural meeting of the Consultation Steering Group and noted the Commissioner of Taxation, Chris Jordan, had tendered his apologies but noted his key messages on his behalf:

  • External connectedness with the community and stakeholders is important to the ATO now and into the future.
  • Senior leaders in the ATO will be connecting with the community and external stakeholders as a core part of their activities.

Sue welcomed Gerry Antioch and noted his role as co-chair.

Scope of Consultation Steering Committee

Sue Sinclair summarised the proposed scope of the Consultation Steering Group (Steering Group), also noting its relationship with the National Taxation Liaison Group (NTLG) would be flexible in order to accommodate the changing landscape of the ATO’s consultation arrangements:

The Steering Group includes members of industry, tax, accounting, legal and super associations.

The group will highlight the ‘big’ tax and super issues facing Australia and facilitate consultation and resolution of priority issues.

The ATO has access to a stakeholder register of approximately 190 people that have indicated their interest in consulting with the ATO.

Members noted the need to clarify the relative responsibilities of the Consultation Steering Group and the NTLG, including via discussions as to the role and scope of the NTLG.

Members noted the importance of early discussions, sharing of information as appropriate and that it would be useful to periodically review the Steering Group’s effectiveness. The Secretariat in consultation with the Chair will ensure time is allocated to the forward work program for this purpose.

Action item:


Due date:

March 2014


Sue Sinclair with Secretariat and following input from all members

Effectiveness measures:

Consideration to be given to measuring the effectiveness of work undertaken by the Consultation Steering Group.

Steering Group activities will be considered against these measures bi-annually.

Consultation Hub

The ATO Consultation Hub coordinates consultation between the ATO and the community, enhancing timely, effective and consequence-aware decision making.

Where consultation would be beneficial, the hub is responsible for ensuring:

  • there is clarity about the reason and intent of the consultation
  • the right people for consultation are identified
  • participants identify the best method of conducting the consultation
  • the consultation process is undertaken in a timely way.

The hub enables us to:

  • collate and publish matters raised by the community for consultation
  • develop a systemic view of consultation and understand the benefits and opportunities it provides.
  • deliver more effective consultation engagements through a system-wide perspective, greater efficiency and the use of best practice methods when we engage with the community
  • harness the wide variety of expertise and willingness in the community to make the tax and super systems better for all Australians
  • legacy issues – the Hub has registered those issues which were previously owned by various NTLG sub-groups    
    • members noted a preference for a co-ordinated approach to organising consultation meetings.
    • members agreed that the Stewardship Committees should be focused on high-level, strategic matters as befits their charter and memberships, but that any specific issues raised for consultation should be made visible via the public matters for consultation register.

Treasury update

Gerry Antioch emphasised the joint ATO/Treasury stewardship of the tax and super systems and noted the benefits of Treasury co-chairing the Steering Group and its associated forums including the NTLG.

Gerry advised in the past Treasury have produced a monthly ‘work program’. Treasury intends to recommence production of this work program and will address queries about its consultation activities either directly or via questions on notice at the Steering Group.

Integrated Tax Design update

Andrew England provided an overview of the new Integrated Tax Design function to streamline input into tax law design and influence policy decision-making.

Andrew noted there is a small team dedicated to filtering and prioritising key issues affecting the operation of the Tax system which have policy implications. The team is currently doing a stocktake of issues raised to date.

Andrew advised that participation in consultation groups is the key to understanding the relative importance of each issue, so that issues can be prioritised and emphasised that ATO priorities as to tax law design were aligned to the 2020 vision and not narrowly focused on revenue protection.


Andrea Slattery made the following points about maximising the benefits of consultation around super issues:

  • The Australian superannuation system generates a significant proportion of non-tax related responsibilities for which the ATO is accountable. The industry sees the ATO as the custodian for future management of administration and operation of the Australian superannuation system.
  • The current perception is that the NTLG is primarily focused on issues pertaining to revenue collection and that the ATO should consider how to reposition super issues so that strategic and policy guidance can be obtained in future from the industry.


The members resolved to consider how super issues are to be treated in the consultation environment so that strategic and policy guidance can be obtained in future from the industry. Members noted this may affect the NTLG Charter and Agenda.

The members noted the importance of the ATO’s role as regulator in relation to the super industry, including relevant links to other regulators.

Action item:


Due date:

30 June 2014


Sue Sinclair with Peter Coakley

Super in the consultation environment

Consider how super issues are to be treated in the consultation environment so that strategic and policy guidance can be reliably obtained from the industry. This should occur in concert with a review of the NTLG’s scope and role.


Members agreed that the following issues should form part of the Steering Group’s forward work program:

Statutory remedial powers (SRPs) for the Commissioner

Members agreed to commission a tripartite limited-life working group to discuss potential SRPs for the Commissioner in greater detail. Steering Group members will be asked to provide input on membership of this Working Group. The Working group will report back to the Group with a more concrete and road-tested proposal.

Action item:


Due date:

February/March 2014


Peter Coakley with Deepti Paton

Statutory remedial powers for the Commissioner

ATO to commission a tripartite limited-life working group to discuss the operation of potential SRPs for the Commissioner in more detail, with a view to reporting back to the Group with a more concrete and road-tested proposal. ATO to seek input from Steering Group members on appropriate membership for this Working Group and to scope and advance consultation.

Taxation of trusts

Members noted ongoing concerns about the progress of the Division 6 (trusts) reform project. Members noted that the scope of the project was very broad and that there was not consensus as to this approach being the best way forward.

The ATO will work with Treasury and externals to consider breaking-up the broader trust reform project into segments, potentially via the Trust Reform and Compliance Group.

Action item:


Due date:

Initially by 28 February 2014


Peter Coakley with Deepti Paton

Trust reform

ATO to further discussions with Treasury and externals to scope and segment issues relating to Trust reform. Further input to be sought from the Steering Group as to the best way forward, including the potential role of the Trust Reform and Compliance Group.


Action consultation if needed pending an announcement by the Government.

[Post-meeting note: On 14 December 2013, Assistant Treasurer Sinodinos announced that the measure entitled ‘Capital gains tax – look through treatment for earn out arrangements’ would proceed.]

Survey improvement

The ATO is to work collaboratively with members to identify ways in which to better target ATO taxpayer surveys (including potentially via increased user testing) to reduce compliance costs.

Action item:


Due date:

Update on 28 February 2014.

Ongoing watching brief in relation to specific surveys to 30 June 2014, with ongoing discussions as to potential broader improvements.


Peter Coakley

Survey design improvement

The ATO to consider/investigate increasing consultation during the survey design to ensure requests for information are fit for purpose and the language used suited to the recipients/information providers. User testing on information requests before issue should also be considered.

Stakeholder register information

  • Investigate the possibility of sharing information pertaining to nominations contained in the stakeholder register for consultative purposes
  • Consultation on legislative protection for taxpayers that have relied on ‘do not proceed’ tax measures
  • Potential reforms to the loss carry forward rules (Continuity of Ownership and Same Business tests)
  • Consultation on ‘targeted anti-avoidance provision’ to replace the previously announced repeal of section 25-90

Next steps

Each of the issues will be assessed for complexity, capacity and priority and action plans will be developed by the ATO to progress key issues. Issues may be progressed out of session and progress made will be reported at relevant meetings.

A proposed forward work program will be drafted and tabled at each meeting for input.

Starting in late February 2014, meetings will be scheduled on a bi-monthly basis.

Closing comments

Sue Sinclair closed the meeting at 13:00; she thanked members for their willingness to participate in the conversation and reinforced the Commissioner’s apology.

    Last modified: 21 Jan 2015QC 43896