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  • 17 August 2018

    The Tax Practitioner Stewardship Group meeting was held on Friday 17 August 2018.

    The topics discussed are outlined below to assist professional associations to communicate key messages to members.

    Australian Business Number Reform

    The Black Economy Taskforce’s final report to the GovernmentExternal Link made a number of findings and recommendations in relation to the ABN system.

    In response, the Government agreed that the ABN system should be strengthened through a new regulatory framework and is seeking to consult further on the Taskforce’s recommendations.

    The consultation process has now commenced, with a public consultation paper ‘Designing a modern Australian Business Number systemExternal Link’ released on 20 July 2018. Submissions will be accepted until 31 August 2018.

    The Treasury and the ATO encourage tax practitioners to participate in the consultation process for ABN reform and to consider the following questions:

    • What purpose does the ABN system serve?
    • Who should be entitled to an ABN?
    • Should there be conditions associated with an ABN?
    • Should the ABN system be used to support more active verification of legitimate businesses?
    • How should the ABN system support accurate information on businesses?
    • Should ABNs be subject to renewal?

    The consultation process will inform the development of a package of reforms for the 2019–20 Budget.

    Tax gap estimates for individuals not in business

    Strategies to identify over-claiming of work-related expenses are becoming more sophisticated and effective.

    Average work-related expense claims appear to be showing signs of tapering off, indicating that efforts to identify outliers and rectify invalid claims are beginning to have an impact. However, the level of over-claiming remains significant.

    The ATO is working with a subgroup of the Tax Practitioner Stewardship Group, to investigate further administrative improvements to increase correct reporting of work-related expenses and reduce the tax gap.

    Members discussed what further changes could be made to support this outcome through three lenses:

    • what more can the ATO and Tax Practitioners Board do?
    • what more can the tax profession do?
    • what more can tax practitioners do?

    Ideas were raised around the following themes:

    • continue to work together and looking for new opportunities to strengthen ties across ATO, Tax Practitioners Board, professional associations, tax practitioners and demonstrate a united effort
    • look at improving access and quality of education and training for agents via Continuing Professional Development and products that are co-created
    • make the most of data and technology with real-time analytics for agents and increase information sharing between professional associations, the Tax Practitioners Board and the ATO
    • undertake a sustained campaign to influence community attitudes about entitlements to refunds and misconceptions about work-related expenses claims, and
    • increase the visibility of ATO and action taken by the Tax Practitioners Board to bring higher-risk agents to account.

    The ATO will undertake more work, in combination with the working group to develop these ideas and present the outcomes and progress at a future meeting.

    More information and links

    Tax practitioners can obtain more information on these topics from the professional association representatives. Tax practitioners should contact their representative to contribute items for future discussions.

      Last modified: 27 Mar 2019QC 27350