Feature: Purposeful and respectful relationships
We continue to build community confidence by simplifying and maximising our interactions and by finding new and meaningful ways to engage with the community.
Mobile government services
To assist people who do not have ready access to services due to geographic location, we took part in a pilot with the Department of Human Services on its mobile service centre. The mobile service centre travels around rural and regional Australia assisting clients with enquires about Centrelink, Medicare, Australian Electoral Commission, ATO and Indigenous services. Participating ATO officers were able to provide direct support to clients on their taxation obligations. The convenience of being able to speak to officers from multiple departments in one place, at the same time, rather than having to deal with each one over the phone, through the internet or by travelling long distances, has been well received by the communities visited.
Such initiatives give our officers a better appreciation of the circumstances facing individuals and small businesses in remote areas. It also allows for intelligence to be shared between departments and for locally based risks to be identified.
Co-operative assurance model
During the year, we also worked with key external stakeholders to develop a proposed co-operative assurance model concept for large public companies with a turnover of over $100 million. Under the concept, suitable large public companies would be invited to enter into an agreement where they would provide an assurance that they have appropriate governance and tax risk management processes in place to accurately report their GST affected transactions. In turn, we would treat them as low risk and would agree not to conduct integrity of business system related compliance activities for a specified period. We anticipate the model will commence during 2015–16 and be rolled out gradually.
Tourist refund scheme (TRS)
The use of TRS by both Australian residents and non-residents has increased in recent years with a total of $167.6 million being paid under the scheme in 2014–15. We worked closely with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) to assist with the increase in claims by actioning high-risk referral cases and developing procedures to recover incorrectly claimed amounts under the scheme. We continue to work with DIBP to improve ways of analysing patterns and trends in TRS data.
In some referrals from the DIBP, we noted prolonged and systemic abuse of the system by Australian residents and non-residents with eligible visas. Referrals included claims based on false and misleading statements about the value of the items claimed and fraudulent tax invoices where businesses had purported to have sold goods to their directors, associates or staff. Other false claims involved collusion among organised groups to derive a GST benefit.