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TPSG key messages 22 November 2023

Key topics discussed at the Tax Practitioner Stewardship Group meeting 22 November 2023.

Last updated 17 April 2024

Welcome and introduction

Co-chairs Andrew Watson and Robyn Jacobson opened the meeting and welcomed members.

2030 Tax Practitioner Experience Strategy

Strategic Goal 1 – Protect the high levels of engagement and integrity in the tax, super and registry systems

Tax Practitioners Board

Simone Carter, Phillip Davies and Kerrie Sadiq have been appointed as new Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) board members. Other developments included:

  • The Expanded Compliance Program is progressing as planned.
  • The Treasury Laws Amendment (2023 Measures No. 1) Bill 2023 (TLAB 1) passed on 16 November 2023, with amendments. The TPB will consult with stakeholders to ensure there is guidance to assist tax practitioners understand the operation of the law, particularly regarding the reporting of breaches and definitional issues. The TPB Governance and Standards Forum will be a key engagement forum.

Member comments

Professional associations have written to the Minister and issued a media release expressing concerns regarding the consultation process. Notwithstanding, the profession is committed to working with the TPB and ATO to implement the reforms.

Areas of concern regarding the legislation include:

  • limitations on who can sit on the board – larger firms may be excluded
  • the ‘dob-in measure' mechanism for reporting – whether there are or will be whistleblower protections for agents, how to manage impacts of unsubstantiated and possibly vexatious dob-ins, and the obligation and impact on Quality Assurance Reviewers (practices, reviewers and associations and reviewers).

Law reform

The ATO discussed the government’s proposal to amend the secrecy provisions in the Tax Administration Act 1953 (Cth) (TAA) to permit disclosures of suspected misconduct by a member to prescribed associations. The ATO noted:

  • the draft legislation does not impose a 'compulsion' on the ATO to report suspicions but rather provides that the ATO 'may' refer if it has reasonable suspicions
  • it will be important to understand the intersection between the dob-in mechanism in TLAB 1 and this proposal, and the cumulative impacts they may have on members and associations.

Feedback was sought from members on any initial concerns relating the administration of the measures.

Member comments

Members expressed in-principle support for the proposal but identified some areas of concern and areas where further clarity is required:

  • the hierarchy of investigations by regulators and associations and the potential for overlap
  • the process where the agent or practitioner is a member of multiple associations
  • the information, insights and/or evidence that will be shared
  • the importance of the narrative around the proposal to ensure it is not a deterrent to membership
  • clarity around the process and assurance that members will be treated fairly (due process)
  • the bar/threshold for reporting
  • the need to ensure there is proper consultation regarding the regulations.

Service delivery

The ATO's Chief Service Delivery Officer led a discussion to:

  • provide information about the ATO’s priorities and plans relating to service delivery
  • hear from members about priorities for the tax profession.

The ATO noted the importance of its relationship with the profession and thanked the profession for working with the ATO to reduce processing backlogs.

Member comments

  • Members noted issues with current service levels and processes for managing taxpayers whose identity has been compromised.
  • The ATO and the profession would both benefit from increased transparency around processing delays impacting service levels. This would allow agents to manage the expectations of their clients.
  • Members discussed the challenge for practitioners and taxpayers to differentiate between genuine ATO contact and scams. A secure channel for sending messages and notifications is needed.

The ATO will issue communications to inform agents about the ATO's service levels and approach to compromised clients. The ATO will seek feedback from members on draft messages.

The ATO is working on ways to improve the experience for taxpayers whose identity has been compromised.

Call and processing update

The ATO provided a call and processing update, noting:

  • the ATO is experiencing year on year increases for telephony and processing workloads
  • several strategies have been implemented this Tax Time to better balance shifts between processing and call workloads
  • an internal program of work was formed in July 2023 with a focus on elimination and reduction of processing and call workloads
  • the ATO needs practitioners to assist with reducing unnecessary calls.

Member comments

  • There have been improvements in timeframes for processing some activities.
  • Associations are receiving a significant volume of requests for assistance with client-to-agent linking. Agents are concerned about the ATO blocking myGovID assistance calls.
  • Members queried the processes associated with amending returns based on data from third parties, for example, rental or interest data.

Strategic Goal 3 – Improve tax performance for clients of tax practitioners


The ATO provided an update on the refreshed

  • the new website is operational and operating in parallel with the old website
  • the ATO is monitoring performance and addressing irritants and issues as they are identified
  • the performance of the new site will improve as the search capability is based on machine learning
  • members were provided with a walkthrough and encouraged to explore the refreshed website and provide feedback via the survey link in the website banner.

Spotlight on how individuals get into debt

The ATO ran a workshop to identify the drivers and impacts of individual tax debt and explore opportunities to improve support, education and guidance. The workshop also sought ideas about how the system could look different in 2030.

The workshop was prompted by an increased number of taxpayers receiving debit assessments in Tax Time 2023 and suggestions at the Tax Practitioner Stewardship Group (TPSG) Tax Time meetings to explore causes, and potential changes that could be made to reduce the number of individuals receiving debit assessments.

The ATO will distil the workshop information and report back to the TPSG.

Update on working groups

The ATO provided an update on tax profession-related working groups and out of session meetings and sought feedback from members of working groups on their insights and experience.

  • Members queried the next stage of client-to-agent linking. The ATO confirmed a working group will be engaged early in the process but noted there is no timeframe at this stage.
  • Exploring issues and data around short-term accommodation rentals will be an important discussion topic for the Residential Rental Property Working Group.
  • It is important that each working group is outcomes-based and established for a defined period. Working groups are not ongoing groups.

Strategic Goal 4 – Increase trust and confidence in the tax, super and registry systems

Client Engagement group discussion

The ATO discussed its priorities for 2024 and the important stewardship role the TPSG plays.

Stewardship groups are unique compared with other tax jurisdictions, many of which don’t have equivalent ways of engaging with the profession. The ATO views stewardship groups as a critical part of Australia’s strong tax system.

The commitment and expertise members bring to TPSG meetings is appreciated.

Focus areas for the ATO in 2024 are set out in the ATO corporate plan. While all are important, items of particular interest for the profession include fraud and security, the use of data and automation, and working together to support small business.

Member comments

  • Members thanked the ATO for its commitment to the TPSG.
  • The profession is concerned about recent law amendments. There is a need to balance the provision of robust support and advice to clients with addressing inappropriate behaviour.
  • Members would welcome practical guidance for tax practitioners in the wake of the Bendel decision.
  • Early consultation is important to ensure the delivery of optimal solutions.

TPSG 2023 year in review and 2024 priorities

The ATO led a discussion to gather members views on the operation of the TPSG in 2023 and opportunities for 2024.

Member comments

Members confirmed the value of the TPSG and made suggestion for improvements and themes for 2024.

Strategic Goal 6 – Improve small business performance and level the playing field

Lodge and Pay

The ATO provided an update on initiatives to improve payment culture, including the use of external collection agencies and the disclosure of business tax debts, noting:

  • the ATO is starting to see positive impacts of the measures undertaken so far
  • the ATO will recommence use of external collection agents – taxpayers will still be able to contact the ATO directly, especially if they are concerned about the legitimacy of a call
  • the next stage of letters is being issued to taxpayers with debts on hold, including debts put-on hold more than 5 years ago.

Member comments

  • When providing information and messages on non-pursued debts, the ATO should emphasise that these debts were never legally written off.
  • There is currently confusion as many clients think these debts were written off and are now being resurrected.
  • Visibility of all debts is important.

The ATO will review how clients can confirm the legitimacy of contact from external collection agencies to ensure its processes are working as intended. Information on these processes will be included in the tax agent newsletter.

Environmental scan

Members discussed a range of issues, including:

  • compromised identity
  • deceased estates
  • BAS agent access to super guarantee information
  • staffing pressures and exploring offshoring as a solution
  • high-risk agents' compliance program – an update was requested at the next TPSG meeting
  • increasing awareness amongst practitioners about the collaborative work that occurs between the ATO and the profession/associations
  • myGovID for foreign nationals
  • GST on digital products/overseas purchases
  • the timeframe for issuing key messages post TPSG meetings.

Other business and tabled papers

Tabled papers

The following papers were formally tabled:

  • Medium public and multinational business engagement program
  • Payday Super update
  • Update on Single Tough Payroll and activity statement enhancements
  • myGovID updates
  • Implementation of global minimum tax and domestic minimum tax (Pillar 2)
  • Sharing Economy Reporting Regime update and consultation plan – Tranche 2
  • Improve Small Business Tax Performance
  • Early Intervention Strategy update and future of the program
  • Not-for-profit (NFP) self-assessment income tax exempt update

Member comments

Regarding the NFP self-assessment income tax exempt tabled papers, it was noted the form to change registration details (NAT 2943) requires the signature of a former authorised person.

The ATO will investigate whether:

  • the form and instructions can be clearer on who can sign the form
  • the form can be made available online.

The co-chairs thanked members for their ongoing contributions and noted the date and venue for the next TPSG meeting will be advised as soon as possible.


Attendees list




Andrew Watson (Co-chair), Individuals and Intermediaries


Grant Brodie, Client Account Services


Kath Anderson, Individuals and Intermediaries


Michael Rowell, Enterprise Solutions and Technology


Will Day, Small Business

Australian Bookkeepers Association

Peter Thorp

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand

Karen Liew

CPA Australia

Bill Leung

Institute of Certified Bookkeepers

Matthew Addison

Institute of Financial Professionals Australia

Neville Birthisel

Institute of Public Accountants

Tony Greco

National Tax and Accountants Association

Rodney Wilson

Tax practitioner

Brian Greenacre

Tax practitioner

Dean Forte

Tax practitioner

Julian Shimmin

Tax practitioner

Keith Clissold

Tax practitioner

Phil McCann

Tax practitioner

Steven Inglis

Tax practitioner

Ursula Lepporoli

Tax Practitioners Board

Debra Anderson

The Tax Institute

Robyn Jacobson (Co-chair)

Guest attendees

Guest attendees list




Anita Challen, Lodge and Pay


Claire Miller, Enterprise Solutions and Technology


David Allen, ATO Executive


David Ensbey, Enterprise Solutions and Technology


Irma Briggs, Individuals and Intermediaries


Jeremy Hirschhorn, ATO Executive


Jillian Kitto, Lodge and Pay


Lloyd Williams, Individuals and Intermediaries


Michael Buscema, Lodge and Pay


Michael Morton, Individuals and Intermediaries


Nicole Dykstra, Client Account Services


Rob Thomson, Individuals and Intermediaries


Sarah Forza, Individuals and Intermediaries

Tax Practitioners Board

Janette Luu,


Apologies list




Emma Rosenzweig, Superannuation and Employer Obligations


Karen Foat, Australian Business Registry Services


Vivek Chaudhary, Lodge and Pay

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand

Michael Croker

Tax practitioner

Ani Tuna

Tax practitioner

Ken Thomas