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  • Individuals Stewardship Group key messages 13 November 2018

    The Individuals Stewardship Group met on Tuesday 13 November 2018, co-chaired by Alison Lendon, ATO and Craig Hall, National Seniors Australia.

    ATO Second Commissioner insights

    Andrew Mills provided an overview of the Law Design and Practice Group.

    • Consultation arrangements – key groups being the nine Stewardship Groups, stakeholder relationship groups and short-term special purposes working groups. Refreshing membership of the groups is important to gain different perspectives on tax and superannuation matters.
    • Revenue analysis including collation of the annual Taxation Statistics.
    • Advocacy from an administrator’s point of view working closely with the Treasury
    • Tax Counsel Network providing advice and guidance on the ATO’s interpretation of the law.
    • Review and dispute resolution – Last year there were 24,500 objections (0.01%) of all our activity and only 478 cases went to a tribunal / court last year. Improvements to processes have assisted in earlier resolution of disputes. These include In-house facilitation and Dispute Assist assisting taxpayers who are under stress and strain to navigate the dispute process. Also piloting a ‘Tax Clinic’ concept with Curtin University where students help individuals and small businesses who might not be able to otherwise afford tax advice.

    Tax Time 2018 outcomes

    Key outcomes from Tax Time 2018 include:

    • Increased lodgements of 10.3m up 3% from Tax Time 2017, including 3.8m myTax lodgements. Over 7.7 million refunds issued, collectively worth $18.3 billion.
    • Issued 62,000 ‘push’ assessments to taxpayers who only lodged to claim refund of franking credits and as a pilot to a small group of taxpayers with very simple returns.
    • Provided over one million messages in myTax and in tax agent pre-fill data as an alert to check certain deduction claims.
    • Help and assistance including 601 tax help centres and 53 pop-up which included four in drought affected regional centres.
    • An all year round communications and media campaign with a greater reach than in previous years. Occupation specific fact sheets and industry toolkits were well received.
    • Our new infographics have been really well received – over 100,000 downloads.
    • myTax had high community satisfaction rating and fewer complaints, down 5% from last year.

    Individuals not in business Tax Gap

    The Individuals not in Business Tax Gap was released in July 2018. The gap is estimated to be $8.7 billion (6.4%). The overall incidence of adjustments to returns was 72% with deductions, in particular work-related expenses, being the main driver of the gap with over-claimed rental deductions and non-reporting of cash wages also contributing.

    A random enquiry program was used to inform the gap estimate, which is considered best practice internationally. The ATO is undertaking a four-year rolling program (currently in year three) involving around 2,000 randomly selected audits.

    A program of work aimed at reducing the gap includes strategies to influence community attitudes via media and key influencers, improvements to public advice, using technology to increase coverage and reach, targeted programs for higher risk taxpayers and tax agents and exploring digital solutions to capture records to substantiate claims as well as additional audits.

    The ATO sought members’ feedback on the design of the future taxpayer experience supported by technology solutions, eg the ATO app and online enhancements, commercial service providers, real time analytics, more granular/detailed information about claims, enhanced pre-fill data sets including the ability to lock ‘labels’, a tick box for agents and more analytical risk models.

    Members noted that the community would be concerned about locking labels down unless there was an easy review process, and that there needed to be alternative solutions for people who don’t use technology. They also agreed that there would be better take up of digital solutions if the community was provided with personalised education and assistance on how to use them.

    Individuals – Superannuation Online Experience

    Members were walked through the prototype ATO online display screens which are scheduled to be deployed in March 2019. These screens will provide individuals with the ability to view employer contributions paid into their APRA funds in near real time. This represents progressive work to show individuals more about their superannuation. It was noted that individuals whose employers are reporting via Single Touch Payroll will be able to view the superannuation amount reported by their employer under a different menu on ATO Online. Future enhancements to the online services are anticipated to include information on other contribution types, not just employer contributions.

    Members provided feedback on the useability of the screens and how the information could be used to proactively advise individuals if they’re nearing a cap or their super is not being paid by their employer. This is being considered by the ATO and it was agreed that the proposed strategies would be presented at a future meeting. Members were also interested in the work being done in relation to super information reported under Single Touch Payroll and information reported by APRA funds which will be presented at the next meeting.

    Getting to know our members – Australian Shareholders Association

    Edward Patching provided an overview of Australian Shareholders Association (ASA), a not-for-profit organisation which started in 1960. ASA operates nationally with the head office in Sydney (CEO and four staff members) and active committees in NSW, VIC, QLD, SA, WA and the ACT supported by volunteers (99% of ‘staff’). ASA has approximately 5000 members and double that in subscribers. ASA purpose is to:

    • assist members to build their financial literacy knowledge to become better investors,
    • stand up for shareholders through advocacy to government, regulatory agencies and other forums, collaborating with other organisations such as National Seniors, and
    • monitor company performance as well as work with them to raise concerns on behalf of their members/shareholders and improve governance.

    Membership Re-fresh

    Members will be contacted out of session about the upcoming re-fresh of the Group.

      Last modified: 12 Dec 2018QC 57596