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Tax Practitioner Stewardship Group key messages 24 November 2022

Key topics discussed at the Tax Practitioner Stewardship Group meeting on 24 November 2022.

Last updated 2 February 2023

Key topics discussed at the Tax Practitioner Stewardship Group meeting on 24 November 2022

Welcome and introduction

ATO co-chair Deputy Commissioner Hoa Wood welcomed members, asked if there were any conflicts of interest to be declared (none declared) and reminded the group of confidentiality requirements.

Update from ATO Second Commissioner

ATO Second Commissioner Jeremy Hirschhorn addressed the group, discussing current issues and challenges for the ATO.

Jeremy acknowledged the important role that the Tax Practitioner Stewardship Group plays in shaping and administering the Tax, super and registry systems. He thanked outgoing members for their contributions over many years and presented certificates of appreciation.

2030 Tax Practitioner Experience Strategy

Strategic Goal 2 – Safeguard the security of the tax, super and registry data and IT systems

Securing our environment

The ATO shared information about the security environment, noting that the ATO is seeing an increased number of risks.

The group discussed the client-agent linking project, and the risks and issues the profession will face with the deployment. In particular:

  • The project is part of a wider program of work aimed at securing the environment.
  • Other controls are being considered. Members provided suggestions of additional controls outside of client-agent linking, for example, requirement of more than just the ABN to link.
  • While taxpayers who are already in Online services for business should find it relatively simple, those who are not will need to complete multiple steps, which may require more work by agents to assist clients.
  • Online services for business may be a fraud risk for unsophisticated users, especially those who are new to Australia.
  • We need to shift more controls up front, but we also need to be conscious of the fact that at some time many businesses are likely to be impacted in some way by a cyber breach. Cyber first aid is therefore very important.
  • It is very difficult to have a reverse process, where the agent nominates the link and the client confirms, as the client register has lots of agent details (such as addresses, phone numbers, email addresses), which would undermine any approval process.

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

Membership refresh

ATO co-chair Deputy Commissioner Hoa Wood thanked the exiting members for their contributions over the years. Following the membership expression of interest process, 5 new members will commence in 2023.

2030 Tax Practitioner Strategy

The ATO presented the latest version of the Tax Practitioner Strategy, noting that the strategy is still being refined as a result of internal and external consultation.

The next version of the strategy, which maps initiatives to the strategic goals and strategic objectives, will be important.

Member comments

  • It is hard to see some of the earlier feedback provided in the current version, however the ATO advised that the feedback will be included in the next version.
  • Members noted some updates to wording that would improve the strategy for the profession.

Lodgment Program Review

The ATO provided an update on the Lodgment Program Review, noting that while progress has been made across the 3 key streams, the main focus has been on engaging around Group 2 and in particular the Online services for agents deferral solution.

The ATO provided an overview of the Online services for agents deferral solution, which will be deployed in mid-2023:

  • For low-risk deferrals the functionality will facilitate real-time processing, or finalisation within 48 hours.
  • Five co-design sessions were conducted where nominated representatives from the Lodgment Program Review Working Group, Tax Profession Digital Implementation Group and BAS Agent Association Group contributed and provided feedback into the design of the enhancements to the online service.
  • The ATO will shortly commence private beta testing where agents will utilise the online deferral functionality in a live environment and continue to help shape process and support material.

Member comments

  • This is a positive direction that will bring real benefits to agents.
  • The performance metrics need to recognise the engagement models for agents, for example, payment performance is not necessarily a good indicator of performance as agents will often not be engaged or paid to assist with payment of debts by the client.
  • Suggestions around the performance metrics were provided.

Strategic Goal 5 – Empower tax practitioners to add value to their clients through sustainable operations

ATO Digital strategy

The ATO provided an overview of the ATO Digital strategy, noting that we are at a conceptual stage and that an external version of the strategy will be released later.

Member comments

  • Terminology is very important for the external version, for example, members questioned the references to real time / in-flight. It was acknowledged that it is more about the natural time for reporting.
  • Be cognisant of the need to build efficient solutions, which means reducing clicks, screens and actions.
  • Agents are a good leverage point but if we want them to help, we need to make things as easy as possible.

Ethical standards work overview

CPA Australia provided an update on the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA) current work on tax planning and related services. The IESBA is an independent standard-setting board that develops, in the public interest, high-quality ethical standards and other pronouncements for professional accountants worldwide.

This includes the International Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants (the Code of Ethics), which establishes ethical requirements for professional accountants. Members of CA ANZ, CPA Australia and Institute of Public Accountants are bound by these standards, in addition to the relevant laws and regulations in the jurisdiction where they operate.

In September 2019, IESBA established a working group on Tax Planning and Related Services whose objectives, contained in the terms of reference, are to:

  • gather an understanding of regulatory, practice and other developments in corporate and individual tax planning by accountants
  • identify and analyse the ethical implications of those developments and determine whether there is a need for enhancements to the Code of Ethics or further actions
  • develop a report and recommendations to the IESBA.

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

Improve Small Business tax performance through digital and data

The ATO provided an overview of the small business performance initiative, noting:

  • The focus on digital for small businesses is one component of the broader Digital Strategy.
  • Tax Administration 3.0 is where we are heading, where taxable events, reporting and payment are brought closer together.
  • While we want to move to where payment of tax is closer to the event, every regular remittance is not necessarily the right approach either.
  • Those who utilise digital solutions generally have better tax outcomes.
  • The narrative is very important. Technology and artificial intelligence will not replace agents, but agents who use technology will replace those who do not.
  • We cannot just design for small business; it is part of a broader eco-system.

The ATO discussed the assurance role agents play with their clients, ensuring they are using the right accredited systems and that the information flows are set up to generate correct reporting.

The group discussed:

  • natural systems and managing both high volume, straight forward events and low volume, unusual events
  • what can be done now and in the near future to incentivise digitalisation without law change.

Member comments

  • Technology and artificial intelligence have magnified the issues. In the past if someone made a mistake, it was one thing to fix. However, if coding is set up incorrectly, it can have a much larger impact.
  • In some cases, there isn’t a single natural system for a business.
  • There are many quirky issues with GST and fringe benefits tax – this may require legislative change.
  • Be careful of cashflow implications associated with changing due dates. The timing of obligations is important.
  • Single Touch Payroll (STP) is a good example of event reporting. However, it should be recognised that agents do a lot of work in the background before real-time reporting can be prepared and an STP event is ready.
  • Perhaps an opt-in situation, for example, a taxpayer opts into the right timing for their payments, would suit.
  • Perhaps a working group with representatives from a number of stewardship groups would be beneficial.

Improving Lodge and Pay Intermediary Experience

The ATO discussed the new intermediaries stream in Lodge and Pay, which recognises the valuable role played by agents and the issues currently facing agents.

The intermediaries stream will work with agents and other areas of the ATO to understand the issues and improve the lodgment and payment experience.

The group discussed the upcoming extended pilot which will focus on agents where there are multiple clients in debt and who would otherwise receive individual phone calls for each client. This is one of the key irritants reported by agents as it is very inefficient to talk to the ATO multiple times in a single day.

  • Rather than the ATO calling agents on a client-by-client basis, which is very inefficient for all parties, a pilot will be run where the ATO will send a single practice mail message covering multiple clients with tax debts.
  • The message will outline the purpose of the contact, identify all applicable clients, and action needed to assist their clients to meet their obligations.

Member comments

  • This pilot will be a positive step, particularly from a security perspective.
  • The opportunity to include functionality in Practitioner Lodgment Service should also be considered.


Attendees list




Hoa Wood (Co-chair), Individuals and Intermediaries


Craig Sargent, Individuals and Intermediaries


Emma Rosenzweig, Superannuation and Employer Obligations


Grant Brodie, Client Account Services


Kath Anderson, Individuals and Intermediaries


Katrina Donelan, Individuals and Intermediaries


Siobhan Spencer-Arnell, Individuals and Intermediaries


Vivek Chaudhary, Lodge and Pay


Will Day, Small Business

Australian Bookkeepers Association

Peter Thorp

CPA Australia

Elinor Kasapidis

Institute of Certified Bookkeepers

Matthew Addison

National Tax and Accountants Association

Rodney Wilson

Tax & Super Australia

Neville Birthisel

Tax practitioner

Keith Clissold

Tax practitioner

Ken Thomas

Tax practitioner

Mark Chapman

Tax practitioner

Mark Morris

Tax practitioner

Phil McCann

Tax practitioner

Scott Bailey

Tax practitioner

Shanna Hunter

Tax practitioner

Steven Inglis

Tax Practitioners Board

Debra Anderson

The Tax Institute

Robyn Jacobson


Apologies list



Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand

Michael Croker

Institute of Public Accountants

Tony Greco