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  • Small Business Liaison Group minutes 30 April 2015

    Meeting details

    Venue: ATO National Office, Canberra

    Date: 30 April 2015

    Start: 9:30am

    Finish: 1:00pm

    Chair: Steve Vesperman

    Contact and Secretariat: Sandra Wormald

    Contact phone: (02) 9374 5658 / 0401 141 529




    Nicholas Perrott

    Australian Business Software Industry Association

    John Osborn

    Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

    Heath Michael

    Australian Retailers Association

    Mark Brennan

    Australian Small Business Commissioner

    Kerri Dickman

    CPA Australia

    Peter Strong

    Council of Small Business of Australia

    Michael Croker

    Chartered Accountants of Australia and New Zealand

    Kym De Britt

    Franchise Council of Australia

    Wilhelm Harnisch

    Master Builders Australia

    Jo Legge-Wilkinson

    Pharmacy Guild of Australia

    Jock Kreitals

    Real Estate Institute of Australia

    John Hart

    Restaurant & Catering Australia

    Kate Preston

    The Treasury



    Chris Jordan

    Commissioner of Taxation

    Steve Vesperman

    Deputy Commissioner Small Business/Individual Taxpayers

    James O'Halloran

    Deputy Commissioner Indirect Tax

    David Diment

    Deputy Commissioner Service Delivery

    Judy O'Connell

    Assistant Deputy Commissioner Small Business/Individual Taxpayers

    Nicole Dykstra

    Assistant Commissioner Superannuation




    Peter Burn

    Australian Industry Group

    Agenda items

    1. Welcome and introductions

    The Chair, Steve Vesperman opened the meeting and thanked everyone for their attendance. Apologies were noted.

    The minutes of the meeting held on 19 November 2014 were endorsed without change. There were no action items from that meeting.

    2. Reinventing the ATO - small business roadmap

    Steve Vesperman spoke about the Reinventing the ATO blueprint that was released to the community by Commissioner, Chris Jordan in a speech to the Tax Institute of Australia on 19 March 2015. The blueprint reflects the kind of experience the community wants to have when they participate in the tax and super system.

    Steve outlined the development of the Roadmap of change for small business that will detail changes and improvements to small business products and services. It will compile activities, events and milestones up to 2016.

    These key features will improve and transform the experience for small business to make it easy to get things right and hard not to.

    • Better services across government – a single and secure entry point
    • Make it easy – tell us/ask once
    • More time for business – integrated digital solutions that save time
    • What you need , when you need it – access to services anytime
    • Your particular circumstances to be understood – tailored engagement

    On 19 March 2015 the ATO distributed:

    Reinvention site

    This is where you will find all the information and resources for the Reinventing the ATO program.

    Blueprint (full version)

    Here you will find the full version of the Reinventing the ATO blueprint.

    Blueprint summary

    This is a summary highlighting the key elements of the Reinventing the ATO blueprint.

    Every year counts

    A one page overview of the main practical changes the community will see over the next six months.

    Individuals videoExternal Link

    A brief video that captures what the future experience could look like for individuals.

    Small Business videoExternal Link

    A brief video that captures what the future experience could look like for small business.

    Tax Practitioner videoExternal Link

    A brief video that captures what the future experience could look like for tax practitioners.

    Members are encouraged to share these links with their membership to help them understand the ATO future design, what it means for them and the benefits they will see.

    The ATO will continue to consult with the community to ensure we’re on track to provide the right experience. Members were invited to provide feedback at any time by email to the secretariat,

    3. Taxable payments reporting evaluation

    The ATO analysed reported information and reviewed the compliance behaviour of contractors whose incomes were reported under the taxable payments reporting system.

    There was discussion about the observations detailed in the evaluation that demonstrate improvements in voluntary compliance in response to the system, including additional income tax and GST liabilities for 2012-13 voluntarily reported to the ATO by businesses whose incomes were reported under the system.

    This reflects an increase in liabilities reported by businesses in the building and construction industry that:

    • received taxable payments that were reported, and/or
    • reported taxable payments to the ATO

    Specific increases cannot be attributed solely to the impact of the taxable payments reporting system. However, it is likely that the majority of the increases flow from the introduction of the reporting system, the communications and education program together with acceptance of the system by reporting businesses.

    The Taxable payments reporting – effectiveness measurement report was recently published on our website.

    4. Tax impediments facing small business

    The ATO is progressing the implementation of the Board of Taxation’s administrative recommendations from its review of tax impediments facing small business, such as:

    • a dedicated Australian business number (ABN) telephone hotline number was introduced in late 2014.
    • the employee/contractor web based decision tool is undergoing modification and is currently being user tested . The existing tool will remain on the website in the interim.
    • the reporting date for taxable payments reporting system has now been aligned with the business activity statement (BAS) lodgment date of 28 August.
    • an analysis of the effectiveness of taxable reporting payment system has been undertaken and is expected to be publicly released shortly.
    • a prototype Personal Services Income (PSI) web-based decision tool is in development.
    • new simplified transfer pricing record keeping options were released in March 2015.

    There was discussion about potential improvements to reporting requirements for small business with several suggestions put forward by members. These were noted for further consideration out of session.

    5. Commissioner's remarks

    The Commissioner provided an update on two Senate inquiries that the ATO has contributed to recently and the progress of Reinventing the ATO.

    The Reinventing the ATO blueprint that was released last month is the result of wide consultation with different market segments, stakeholders and ATO staff. Refinements will continue in response to feedback and anticipation of new needs and service options available.

    The blueprint describes client experience, staff experience and culture we are trying to create. The principles of our design for both clients and staff are:

    • easy to get things right
    • tailored experience
    • excellent service
    • fair and respectful treatment
    • service delivered in the most effective and efficient way

    We have six formal programs of work that will deliver on our reinvention and transform the client and staff experience:

    • delivering contemporary digital infrastructure and services that are easier to access
    • working with our partners in the tax and super system to create stronger relationships
    • being smarter with our use of data to improve services and compliance
    • fostering a dynamic workforce and client-focused culture
    • tailoring engagement and support to meet individual needs
    • implementing appropriate governance and measuring our success against community values.

    Cultural change is critical to our reinvention and the following traits have been identified in consultation with ATO staff to achieve this:

    • client focused
    • united and connected
    • empowered and trusted
    • future-oriented
    • passionate and committed

    New Leadership and Culture strategies as well as streamlined internal processes and practices support this change.

    Some of the Reinventing the ATO accomplishments already delivered include:

    • simplification and improvement to correspondence
    • for small business - an online newsroom, small business assist and an after-hours call back service
    • MyTax streamlined tax return designed specifically for people with straightforward tax affairs - available on tablets, smart phones and computers.
    • ATO online services for individuals delivered through myGov
    • ATO app that is updated with added functionality and improvements regularly
    • introduced Voiceprint, a secure, fast and easy way to verify your identity over the phone
    • adopting early engagement methods to resolve issues or disputes

    The ATO is also undergoing a significant program to improve its website. We recognise the need for the website to provide a contemporary, tailored, professional and easy to use service.

    As well as better a search function we have been working on rationalising the content that will help to improve searching and navigating through the website.

    Every year counts is a one page overview of the main practical changes the community will see over the next six months.

    6. Member organisation update

    Members gave updates on their segments including:

    • Generally positive feedback was received about the Reinventing the ATO. Members reported that they had observed positive changes to the culture of the ATO.
    • A member association has been delivering SuperStream seminars to prepare their small employer (19 or fewer employees) members for implementation on 1 July 2015.
    • Views were expressed about the readiness of larger businesses in their preparation for SuperStream by 30 June 2016.
    • Member’s noted interest in the ongoing tax reform process.
    • There was discussion about the value of the information required by businesses to provide on business activity statement (BAS) forms. This was noted for further consideration out of session.
    • The Australian Small Business Commissioners’ office continues to progress their transformation into the Australian Small Business and Ombudsman of Family Enterprise Ombudsman.

    7. Fix-it squads

    Judy O’Connell, Assistant Deputy Commissioner Small Business/Individual Taxpayers, will provide an update about the cross agency ‘Fix-it Squads’ under separate cover.

    The update will outline products to be delivered from the second fix it squad that focussed on Restructuring from a sole trader to a small proprietary company, understanding the change.

    The next (third) fix it squad, Taking on an employee: making decisions and reducing red tape is underway.

    8. Wrap up and close

    Chair Steve Vesperman thanked members for their contributions to the meeting and noted the ATO would give further consideration to the issues and ideas raised.

    The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday 15 July 2015 commencing at 1:00pm and concluding at around 4:30pm.

      Last modified: 14 Jul 2015QC 46376