Stakeholder relationships


During 2014–15, we received seven GST consultation requests from industry representatives, government bodies and various professional associations. Some of these consultation matters led to other types of interaction including specific issue presentations and workshops.

Consultation topics included:

  • GST integrity of business systems
  • draft tax invoices for GST purposes
  • international guidelines
  • GST-free export of thoroughbred horses.

One consultation matter was also considered by the GST Safe Harbours Working Group. The Working Group, established to identify and implement red tape reductions in GST, met several times throughout the year.


We use feedback from the community to target areas for improvement, remove irritants for taxpayers wherever possible, and refine our internal processes and external communication products.

In 2014–15, we received 266 complaints where GST was the primary issue, a 4% decrease on 2013–14. However, the number of complaints with a GST component increased this year to 123.

Around 63% of these GST component complaints related to ATO system registration issues that resulted in some ABN and GST registrations not being reflected in the Australian Business Register, the Tax Agent Portal and the Business Portal. To assist clients impacted by this issue and allow them to operate their business, we provided a letter confirming that they are registered for GST and should be charging and remitting GST.

The most common complaints received during the year related to:

  • timeliness of processing BAS refunds
  • system registration issues
  • audit issues including decisions.

From 1 May 2015, complaints about the ATO transferred from the Commonwealth Ombudsman to the Inspector-General of Taxation (IGT). We responded to 12 Ombudsman/IGT cases, compared to seven last year.

Services to Government

We manage external and internal stakeholder relationships with Government, Ministers, other Members of Parliament, and other agencies and stakeholders. We continue to work with our stakeholders to strengthen relationships and encourage continuous improvement in sharing of information and providing services to the community.

Table 24: Services to Government activities




Compared to 2013–14

Parliamentary briefings



Down 79%

Questions on notice



Down 100%




Down 65%

Member of Parliament phone queries



Down 40%

Minutes to Minister



Up 66%

Minutes to Treasury



Down 100%

Costings to Treasury



Down 53%

All services to government other than Minutes to the Minister have reduced during 2014-15. The reduction in the number of Ministerials we received reflects the lack of significant GST issues being raised within the community. Our alternative approach to raising issues with Treasury throughout the year meant that no minutes to Treasury needed to be issued.

New policy developments

Tax White Paper: Better Tax Discussion Paper

On 30 March 2015, the Government released the Better Tax Discussion Paper. The paper included a chapter on the Goods and Services Tax and state taxes.

The discussion paper noted that GST is relatively efficient compared to some other taxes as it has a much broader base than many other taxes. However, exemptions reduce its efficiency and introduce significant complexity. In total, around 47% of Australia’s national consumption is subject to GST.

The chapter considers issues in broadening the GST base and increasing the rate while noting that any changes to the GST would require the unanimous support of the State and Territory governments and that the Government would only consider any such proposal if there was broad political consensus for change.

The consultation period closed on 1 June 2015, and an extension was given for retirement income submissions to 24 July 2015, with 786 submissions received. We anticipate that the Government will consider issuing a Green paper, outlining reform options with a White paper setting out the Government’s reform package to follow later in 2015.

Treasury Legislation Amendment (Repeal Day) Bill 2014 - Definition of Australia

The Repeal Day Bill received Royal Assent on 25 February 2015. This forms part of the Government’s commitment to deregulation by having one meaning in the tax legislation for the word ‘Australia’. Schedule 4 to this Bill rewrites and simplifies sections of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 that define ‘Australia’ for tax purposes in the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997. It also replaces the term ‘Australia’ in the A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax) Act 1999 with the term ‘indirect tax zone’.

The commencement date is 1 July 2015. However, the rewritten provisions generally make no policy change.

Extending GST to digital products and other services imported by consumers

In the 2015 Budget, the Government announced that from 1 July 2017, it would extend the GST to digital products and other services imported by Australian consumers. This will include digital products such as streaming or downloading movies, music, apps, games, e-books, and services such as architectural or legal.

On 12 May 2015, Treasury released exposure draft legislation and explanatory material for an eight-week consultation period. To minimise the compliance burden on non-resident suppliers, the ATO is working closely with Treasury to design a simplified registration and remittance regime.

    Last modified: 14 Dec 2015QC 47462