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  • Tax Profession Digital Implementation Group key messages 23 November 2021

    Fostering improved integration of tax services in commercial software

    Re-examining the principles that guide where a digital service is deployed for tax professionals

    Members were provided with the ‘Developing digital services – wholesale and retail considerations’ presentation with the meeting papers.

    The presentation contained some draft guiding principles in determining the suitability for when digital services should be provided as:

    • wholesale only
    • wholesale first
    • joint wholesale and retail
    • retail only/retail first.

    The principles are supplemented by guiding questions that consider certain factors when determining whether a service is suitable for retail or wholesale channels.

    The principles were developed in collaboration with the Digital Partnership Office and provide some guidance on when and where to deploy and are intended to provide more transparency and understanding as to how those decisions are made.

    Members discussed:

    • Do these principles remain relevant in 2021 and beyond?
    • Are there any gaps and or opportunities to enhance these principles?
    • Should these principles be weighted or ordered by their relative importance?
    • If these principles were applied today, would this alter the scope of current services available in Online Services for Agents (OSfA)?

    Member comments and suggestions were captured for consideration.

    Improving take up of ATO digital services software

    Understanding the factors that would support improved tax professional and Digital Service Provider (DSP) take up of ATO digital services in software

    Members discussed:

    • How does a tax professional’s use of commercial software differ from their use of OSfA? What influences this differentiation?
    • What additional services would tax professionals most like to see included in their software? How would these new services benefit them?
    • From a DSP perspective, what does a good experience look like when integrating a new ATO service for tax professionals in software?
    • How can the tax profession, DSPs and the ATO work better together to improve the delivery of application programming interfaces and encourage uptake of these discretionary services?

    Member comments and suggestions were captured for consideration.

    The ATO advised that it would arrange a session with members in early 2022 to explore the work being undertaken regarding notifications for agents.

    Tax professionals digital services roadmap concept

    Members were provided with the ‘Tax professionals roadmap concept’ presentation with the meeting papers. The presentation contained an overview of the concept and the proposed consultation process with DSPs and practitioners.

    The roadmap will articulate to tax professionals the digital service investments being made by the ATO to improve their digital experience. It will provide an overview of all significant digital initiatives including:

    • a description of the digital service
    • how the service improves their experience and or strengthens client reporting
    • proposed delivery channel/s (that is OSfA and or commercial software)
    • delivery timelines and key milestones
    • opportunities for engagement (co-design, consultation, user testing).

    The Tax Professionals Digital Services Roadmap will be made available online for tax professionals and be reviewed and updated on a periodic basis. It will be a sortable resource, that will make it easy for tax professionals to see where changes to delivery plans have occurred and contain links to more detailed information.

    The ATO advised that the intent was to maintain the product and clearly communicate and explain any changes in effort to provide effective transparency in recognising the importance of good governance.

    Members were broadly supportive and positive in relation to the need for the product, and the proposed approach outlined in the presentation.

    The ATO advised that it would provide further updates to the Tax Profession Digital Implementation Group members regarding the roadmap consultations.

    Cyber security – obligations and risks from a tax perspective

    Members were provided with the ‘Cyber Security, Tax professionals – approach and insights presentation with the meeting papers.

    The presentation provided an overview of an initiative that will assess the current level of cyber security awareness and practice across the tax profession, and address knowledge gaps through targeted education.

    Results of a recent survey conducted with tax professionals highlighted that there was opportunity to improve practitioner awareness relating to the ‘essential eight’ cyber security mitigation strategies. There is further work to be undertaken to determine whether the gap is in awareness or familiarity in terminology.

    Enterprise Client Register project

    Members were provided with an overview on the Enterprise Client Register project that will focus on improving the ATO client register. It will commence with addressing how to collect tax agent and client contact details separately within the register.

    • The project is currently in the early stages of engagement. The consultation and co-design approach are intended to provide regular engagement and updates on the issues being worked through, what can and cannot be done and to obtain insight into the view from the perspective of the tax profession.
    • The change includes technology as well as process changes for the ATO and the Tax Agent community.

    It was noted that this is the first step to deliver a more holistic approach to communication preferencing.

    Members indicated support and a desire to contribute to this project, emphasising the need for early and regular engagement to achieve the desired outcomes.

    Membership refresh and 2022 meeting structure

    Members discussed the potential meeting structure for 2022 and the recommendation to refresh the membership and co-chair position in line with the ATO consultation framework.

    Mark Morris was recognised and thanked for his professional stewardship and fulfillment of the co-chair position over the years by the ATO and members alike.

    Business arising

    Kerry O’Loghlin flagged that it would be beneficial for members to consider the achievements of the group in 2021 and to record these in early 2022 to demonstrate efficacy and as a part of good governance.

    No other items of business were raised for discussion.

    Members were thanked for their contributions and commitment throughout 2021 and the meeting was closed.

      Last modified: 11 Jan 2022QC 67640