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  • Individuals Stewardship Group key messages 14 November 2017

    Meeting details

    The Individuals Stewardship Group (ISG) met on Tuesday, 14 November 2017, co-chaired by Alison Lendon, ATO and Craig Hall, National Seniors Australia.

    A summary of topics discussed is provided below.

    Getting to know our members

    Craig Hall and Bede Fraser provided an overview of their respective organisations.

    National Seniors Australia is a membership-based organisation providing an advocacy voice for older Australians. They also offer a range of services including insurance products, travel, member benefits and financial information.

    Craig manages their Financial Information Desk with responsibility for improving financial literacy for older Australians. This includes explaining how products work, providing information on superannuation, taxation, pensions, investments, risks and any impacts to government benefits.

    Craig highlighted the barriers for seniors in complying with their financial obligations, noting that one-on-one interactions were the most effective way to engage with seniors.

    The Treasury’s role is to provide policy advice to the Government on all aspects of the economy. Bede works in the Individuals and Indirect Tax Division with responsibility for policy advice on personal income tax, small business taxes and concessions, indirect taxes, not-for-profits and tax administration.

    Policy challenges include the future direction of the tax system, implementation of the legislative agenda and preparation for the 2018–19 Budget. SubmissionsExternal Link about priorities for the 2018–19 Budget can be made by 15 December.

    Treasury has established the Treasury Research InstituteExternal Link which aims to understand contemporary economic developments and stimulate debate on policy issues.

    ATO Chief Information Officer insights

    Ramez Katf spoke about the ATO’s current IT systems, noting that 90% of all the ATO’s transactions are now electronic – individuals (ATO online through myGov), tax agents (Practitioner and Electronic lodgment services), Australian Business Register and business-to-business transactions through SuperStream.

    Areas of focus discussed with members were:

    • systems stability and sustainability to ensure they meet community expectations
    • transparency of tax and superannuation information to individuals when large employers start to report through Single Touch Payroll from 1 July 2018
    • a single and secure digital identity across Government, in conjunction with the Digital Transformation Office, and
    • improving the quality of correspondence and providing choice to an individual about how they receive their correspondence.

    Scams and identity theft

    Stuart Coulson, Fiona Holman, Michael Wilson and Carmel Nugent provided an overview of the ATO’s approach in managing and responding to scams and identity theft, including:

    • examples of recent scams and identity theft matters
    • how to spot email and phone scams
    • what the ATO does in response to scams and identity theft
    • how to report a scam – email scams to reportemailfraud@ato.gov.au, or call 1800 008 540, as soon as possible, and
    • ongoing marketing and communication to raise awareness, working in collaboration with a range of other organisations including major retailers.

    The ATO will work with the Individuals Stewardship Group to provide relevant messages to their members as well as information to their staff so that they can support members in reporting potential scams.

    See also:

    Shaping Tomorrow’s Taxpayer Today – supporting migrants with tax and superannuation

    Justin Micale and Braden Powell provided an update on initiatives to support new migrants with their tax and superannuation obligations. A recent workshop with new migrants and representatives from various migrant organisations focussed on a ‘Support the Supporters’ concept and agreed the following deliverables be progressed over coming months:

    • building stakeholder relationships with migrant support groups
    • working with other government agencies to ensure consistency in the delivery of services, information and support, and
    • developing measures to assess the effectiveness of these activities and ongoing feedback to inform future strategies and services.

    Members were supportive of these deliverables and happy to assist by including relevant information in their publications, newsletters and educational material.

    Tax Time 2017

    Kath Anderson highlighted the outcomes from Tax Time 2017, noting that it had out-performed 2016 results.

    • Delivered were Government commitments; a range of trials including ‘push’ returns for self-preparers who only lodge to receive a refund of franking credits; additional messages in myTax and pre-fill data available to tax agents as prompts to check deductions; and webchat and co-browsing to help self-preparers with their lodgments.
    • Communications and media campaigns during tax time focussed on ‘choice’ and ‘getting it right’.
    • Very high community satisfaction rating and there were fewer complaints.

    Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) and Trade Support Loan (TSL) Overseas Obligations

    Kath Anderson talked about the activities the ATO is doing to ensure overseas residents who have a HELP/TSL debt, understand their obligations as a result of Government changes:

    • providing their contact details and submitting an overseas travel notification when a taxpayer has an intention to, or already resides overseas for 183 days or more in any 12 month period, and
    • lodgment of worldwide income or a non-lodgment advice.

    The ATO’s focus has been on educating and encouraging self-compliance through targeted communications to affected audiences both onshore and overseas, working closely with other government agencies.

    Future agenda topics discussed by the Individuals Stewardship Group included an overview of the Government Digital ID initiative, a demonstration of 'Tax Super and You' and an overview of lost and re-uniting superannuation.

    Meeting dates for 2018 are 13 March, 10 July and 13 November.

    For further information email Individuals Stewardship Group

      Last modified: 19 Jun 2018QC 56035