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  • COVID-19: Commissioner Chris Jordan's message to the tax profession

    As the COVID-19 situation continues to develop, I wanted to take the opportunity to personally reassure the tax profession that the ATO is here to support you and your clients.

    I have always said that the tax profession is one of the ATO’s most trusted partners. Now, as Australia works collectively to respond to the widespread and complex impacts of COVID-19, that partnership is more important than ever. With the virus threatening not only our health but the economy, business and Australians’ livelihoods, I know that both you and your clients will be feeling the effects. I want you to know that we are here to help.

    We have already been working closely with individual agents and the Tax Practitioners Stewardship Group to identify how we can best respond to what you need from us. You told us that the challenges you are facing are diverse and complicated, and that blanket measures are not a sufficient response. That’s why we are committed to working closely with you and your clients, to tailor our response to individual circumstances and ensure we are offering the best possible support for your situation.

    So it’s vitally important that you reach out to us if you are struggling. If you or your clients are having trouble meeting lodgement or payment obligations, or are concerned about new and ongoing debts, we can help. We have a range of tools and measures available, so I urge you to use them or get in touch with us if you need to.

    Also, if coping with COVID-19 is causing theoretical tax issues for you or for your clients, let us help. You don’t need to agonise over academic, technical arguments: contact us, and we’ll try our best to give pragmatic, practical advice. We’ve already done this on a range of issues, from central management and control, to SMSF residency issues, to expat tax issues.

    Supporting you, and all our clients, is our first priority. In order to continue to do that, we’ve had to reorganise some of our work processes as we manage the impact of this situation on our own operations. We are working hard to maintain our critical systems and services, but like all organisations we have had to make some alternative arrangements. This includes redirecting some of our efforts to assisting with the delivery of the Australian Government’s economic response to coronavirus, which will benefit you and your clients.

    What that means is that we may not be able to meet all of our usual service standards, so I ask for your patience during this difficult time. We are doing everything we can to mitigate the impacts on your experience with us, including increasing the number of staff available on our phone lines, and keeping you updated through the Frequently Asked Questions section on our COVID-19 webpage. At the ATO we put our clients at the heart of everything we do, and we will not lose sight of that as this situation continues.

    While the coming months will be a challenge, it is one we face together. I am confident that the strong working partnership between the ATO and the tax profession will allow us to support the community through this difficult time.

    Yours Sincerely,

    Chris Jordan
    Commissioner of Taxation.

    Last modified: 24 Mar 2020QC 61912