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Tax Practitioner Stewardship Group key messages 28 February 2023

Key topics discussed at the Tax Practitioner Stewardship Group meeting on 28 February 2023.

Last updated 29 March 2023

Introduction – member expectations, and confidentiality

Co-chairs Hoa Wood and Robyn Jacobson opened the meeting. Conflicts of interests were canvassed, none declared.

Hoa Wood welcomed 5 new members commencing in 2023 and thanked returning members for their continued and valued contribution.

The group discussed confidentiality and integrity agreements. Members noted:

  • Overall, the Tax Practitioner Stewardship Group (TPSG) is very effective, and confidentiality is preserved.
  • Associations are keenly interested in how confidentiality might impact their ability to communicate with colleagues and leaders.
  • The ATO is considering a 4-category system for confidentiality that will provide clarity for members. The agreed approach will need to apply more broadly than just the TPSG.
  • Feedback on integrity declarations was received, noting that existing integrity declarations will remain in place while being reviewed.

2030 Tax Practitioner Experience Strategy

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

The Tax Practitioner Board (TPB) provided the following updates:

  • The Treasury Laws Amendment (2023 Measures No. 1) Bill 2023 was introduced on 16 February 2023.
  • The TPB has expanded its compliance program, identifying issues and learnings from recent cases.
  • The TPB confirmed its commitment to consultation with the tax profession, professional associations, consumers, and other government agencies. With appropriate integrity, these processes can support improved relationships and collaboration with stakeholders, shared commercial and legal insights, enhanced public policy outcomes and early identification and resolution of risks and issues.
  • While acknowledging the benefits of consultation, the TPB also recognises the risks relating to breaches of confidentiality, unmanaged conflicts of interest and failure to act with integrity. The TPB is reviewing its management of risks associated with TPB consultation and is testing and assessing its own guidance materials to determine if further guidance is required.
  • The TPB noted that recent cases had a focus on the importance of professional and ethical standards, upholding integrity, confidentiality and managing conflicts. Many tax practitioners and some associations have taken a pro-active approach. They are reviewing their own performance, processes, systems, and guidance to ensure they are upholding standards set by government and expected by the community. TPB encourages these individual improvements of tax practitioners and will continue to work with the profession and partner agencies to coordinate and clarify guidance.

Member comments

Members offered general feedback and discussed issues being experienced in the current environment, including changes and implications arising from the recent Bill. Members noted:

  • The potential for the Code of Professional Conduct to be expanded via a legislative instrument.
  • The proposed reform for disqualified entities will need practical guidance on the level of due diligence agents are expected to undertake to identify ineligible persons. The profession expects there to be contractual adjustments to protect against inadvertent recruitment of ineligible persons.
  • Proof of Identity requirements are important, and agents should be reminded not to keep copies of identity documents.
  • The TPB will increase their focus on higher risk tax practitioners under the expanded compliance program and practitioners are encouraged to report suspected Code of Professional Conduct breaches.
  • The TPB and ATO are considering how to best communicate with taxpayers’ post-deregistration of their tax practitioner. Associations have existing processes to assist where agents have been incapacitated, which might provide useful guidance.
  • It will be important to ensure agents understand the reasons why the registration process is proposed to change from a 3 year to annual cycle.

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

Social media impersonation scams

The ATO provided an update on impersonation scams, noting:

  • The ATO is seeing an increase in fake social media accounts impersonating ATO and some senior staff across Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Instagram and other platforms.
  • The ATO’s only official accounts are on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
  • The best way to verify that it is really the ATO is to
    • Check how many people follow the account. Our verified Facebook and LinkedIn accounts have over 200,000 followers, and our Twitter account has over 65,000 followers.
    • Check activity on the accounts. Our social media channels have been operating for around 10 years – if it is a newly created account, or only has a few posts, it is not us.
    • Look for the grey tick next to our username, @ato_gov_au on Twitter and the blue tick next to our name, Australian Taxation Office on Facebook.
    • Make sure any email addresses provided to you end with ‘’.
Member comments
  • Sometimes ATO correspondence looks like a scam.
  • Agents face challenges when client identity has been compromised, and significant challenges when an entire agent client base has been compromised.
  • The importance of continuing to engage with practitioners to improve their awareness of the evolving nature of scams and to leverage their connections with their clients.

myGov and myGovID

The ATO provided an update on the on the recent myGov review and the future of myGovID, noting:

  • A range of opportunities to improve myGov have been identified, including the complexity of the myGov and myGovID rebranding.
  • Digital identity is becoming increasingly important, and interoperability will become more common.
  • Across government, there is a steady increase in the number of services being accessed via Relationship Authorisation Manager (RAM).
  • Digital identity as a policy is led by Digital Transformation Agency, which includes the potential to open up to the private sector.
Member comments
  • The government has recently set up a new position of National Cyber Co-ordinator. There is a high level of activity in this area.
  • The branding of myGov and myGovID continues to create confusion in the community.
  • Members would appreciate seeing a roadmap or forward plan for RAM.
  • Ideally agents would like to be trusted to be the authenticators.

Client/agent linking

The ATO provided an overview of consultation undertaken with TPSG professional associations, noting:

  • The project is part of the wider program of work aimed at securing the environment.
  • To date, the program has been rolled out to public and multinational businesses and the Top 500 private and wealthy groups. Government entities were recently added, noting many are not linked to an agent.
  • The ATO is committed to understanding the impacts on agents and the support needed. ATO has been consulting with association representatives about further rollouts focusing on small business needs.
  • Based on the feedback from the pilot group and Phase 2 roll-out, ATO has been continuing to develop client experience changes that improve the client and agent experience of the nomination process while preserving the strength of the controls (enabling agents to see who has nominated them).
  • Individuals and non-corporate entities are not in-scope for this phase of the program and will require a different design.
  • The ATO will look to do focus groups to continue understanding agent and client lived experience taking into account the expansion of the solution.
Member comments
  • Members understand and accept why this must be done, but the how is still cause for concern. More needs to be done to help agents explain the why to their clients.
  • Exception processes must be a focus area, including processes for bulk transfers and large clients with many associated entities.
  • Agents who have removed disengaged clients from their client lists will have to go through the linking process when they re-engage. We need to be careful that we do not create a disincentive to re-engage.
  • Agent communication and support products would benefit from infographics and screen shots rather than plain text on help pages.

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

Lodgment program review

The ATO summarised the progress of the lodgment program review.

  • The review is nearing completion. We are now well placed to address the most significant issues raised and the ATO has a much better understanding of the pressures facing agents (which provides context for implementation of future measures and projects).
  • Most of the dates identified as pressure points were unable to be moved without creating equal or worse impacts on whole-of-system outcomes. In most cases, shifting the date would add pressure to another period where agents are already under pressure.
  • A range of short and long-term options have been identified that can reduce the pressure for many of the dates identified.
  • The working group was deliberately set-up as a limited scope review that would produce recommendations for further consideration, rather than an ongoing program of work to implement recommendations. Further exploratory and implementation activity will occur following the completion of the review and would need to have regard to other ATO priorities.
  • To maintain momentum, the TPSG will monitor the work arising from the review through periodic updates, twice per year.
Member comments
  • The narrative associated with the review is important. A lot of work has been undertaken and it is important to recognise the key outcomes arising.

Lodgment deferrals in Online service for agents

The ATO provided an update on the upcoming feature in Online services for agents.

  • Significant consultation has been undertaken to date, with very positive feedback.
  • The private beta group representing over 50 tax and BAS agents will commence testing of the new feature on 3 April 2023.
  • The feature will be made available to the broader agent population from 24 April 2023.
  • The new functionality will provide automated responses for agent assessed, low risk requests.
  • The new feature will also streamline the process for higher risk requests, including Top 100 entities, which will still need to be actioned/approved manually.
  • The new feature will provide improved visibility for agents.
Member comments
  • This is a very good news story and will be well received by agents.
  • A consistent and co-ordinated scheduling of communications via weekly publications should occur.

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

Sharing Economy Reporting Regime

The ATO provided an overview of the small business Sharing Economy Reporting Regime (SERR), noting:

  • The SERR, which became law on 12 December 2022, requires operators of electronic distribution platforms (EDPs) to report certain transactions to the ATO.
  • The SERR begins for transactions made from 1 July 2023 for supplying taxi services, including ride sourcing and short-term accommodation.
  • Reporting for all other reportable transactions begins 1 July 2024.
  • General advice about the Sharing economy reporting regime has been published on
  • The ATO is undertaking a range of consultation activities to gain feedback on implementation, administration issues and working directly with electronic disruption platform operators (EDP) who are facilitating ride sourcing and short-term accommodation transactions as a high priority.
  • The ATO will work with all stakeholders in implementing the regime. Tax professionals play a key role with supporting and educating EDPs and to support sellers to understand and meet their obligations for sharing economy activities.
Member comments
  • It will be important to help platforms communicate with their users and help them identify what is and is not included in reporting.
  • There is a need to be careful about the accuracy of the data provided by the reporting platform.
  • The public is not aware of the extent to which ATO will have access to more data. Managing the messaging will be important.

Credit offsetting to debts on hold

The ATO advised that:

  • Offsetting debts is a legislative requirement. The Commissioner of Taxation does not have the discretion to leave debts on hold if a credit is available.
  • An extensive communication program to inform agents and clients will be undertaken.
  • Where an agent represents one or more clients, and it is likely they will have future credits offset, the ATO will send the agent a list of clients with a non-pursued debt, including their non-pursued debt balance by account type.
  • There is a process by which agents can find if any, and how much, of their client’s debt is on hold through Online services for agents. For instructions, see Debts on Hold.
  • The debt on hold will only be re-raised up to the amount of the available credit. Agents can view this on the statement of account as a 're-raise of non-pursuit' where the whole debt was offset, or partial 're-raise of non-pursuit' where there is a remaining balance on hold.
  • When a debt on hold is re-raised, the ATO will remit General Interest Charge (GIC) for the period between the non-pursuit date and the re-raise date. The ATO does not have the discretion not to impose the GIC.
  • If a taxpayer is facing severe financial hardship, and a future credit is expected, agents should reach out to discuss the available options. Once the credit has been offset there are very limited opportunities within the law for this to be reversed.
Member comments
  • The ATO should wait until debts are visible, before commencing this initiative.
  • Agents would rather a whole list of all clients with a non-pursued debt on their account, not just the ones that are likely to be impacted by offsetting.
  • Letters should be made visible in the Communication Contact History of Online services for agents.
  • BAS agents also need visibility.
  • Being able to explain this measure to taxpayers and agents will be critical. ATO call centre staff will need to be supported to be able to explain with confidence why the debt cannot be written off, and web guidance will need to be very clear.
  • This will be a risk area for agents who provide instant tax refunds.
  • Members requested wording for offsetting of non-pursed debt that can be shared with their stakeholders/association members to raise awareness.

Expanding the use of STP data to address superannuation guarantee non-compliance

The ATO discussed the expanding use of Single Touch Payroll (STP) data to address superannuation guarantee (SG) non-compliance, noting:

  • The ATO is undertaking work to match, at scale, Member Account Transaction Service contributions to STP reporting at the employee level. This will be used to enhance the ATO’s ability to identify SG shortfalls and protect retirement savings.
  • While the ATO uses these data sets to identify non-compliance now, we are looking at how we can build off this work to use the data to help employers understand how and when they got off-track with their employees.
  • The ATO will be in a better position to help and support employers who are getting off-track with their SG obligations and continue to maintain a low tolerance for employers who are not doing the right thing through non- engagement with the ATO to remediate any SG non-payment.
  • Trends of incorrect reporting will be identified, and we’ll work with our stakeholders to identify opportunities to improve quality of reporting from either funds or employers.
  • The ATO’s existing compliance regime will continue and will not be affected while the work is being done to optimise the use of our data. However, over time we would expect that the need for employees to complain about unpaid super should reduce as the ATO increases its ability to identify and respond to non-payment in a more contemporaneous way.

The key focus for employers and agents is to:

  • Ensure your reporting and payment is timely, complete, and accurate.
  • Use the STP corrections framework to correct mistakes as soon as you notice them.
  • Check payroll governance processes are appropriate for your business and reviewed regularly.
  • Remember that SG payments need to be received by the employees’ super fund by the due date – this is especially relevant if you use a commercial clearing house.
Member comments
  • It will be important for the ATO to provide clarity on the compliance approach, particularly given that the data goes back to 2018. Matching back to 2018 may expose other non-compliance not detected through programs targeting high-risk employers.
  • Agents would appreciate more guidance, infographic, or factsheet that they can provide to employers for their SG obligations.

Environmental scan

Members discussed a range of issues, including:

  • Agents’ desire to be able to redact tax file number details from information sent to other parties, for example, banks, and the intersection with Consumer Data Rights.
  • The need for greater completeness, visibility of correspondence in the communications history of Online services for agents.
  • Concerns with wording used in changes to the RAM terms and conditions.

Each of the items was captured for further engagement or investigation.


Attendees list




Hoa Wood (Co-chair), Individuals and Intermediaries


Karen Foat, Australian Business Registry Services


Kath Anderson, Individuals and Intermediaries


Vivek Chaudhary, Lodge and Pay


Will Day, Small Business

Australian Bookkeepers Association

Peter Thorp

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand

Michael Croker

CPA Australia

Elinor Kasapidis

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

Ani Tuna

Tax practitioner

Brian Greenacre

Tax practitioner

Dean Forte

Tax practitioner

Julian Shimmin

Tax practitioner

Keith Clissold

Tax practitioner

Ken Thomas

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




Anita Challen, Lodge and Pay


Ben Foster, Enterprise Solutions and Technology


Bronwyn Ryan, Individuals and Intermediaries


Dan Barron, Enterprise Solutions and Technology


Emma Tobias, Small Business


Felix Manero, Individuals and Intermediaries


Janette Luu, Tax Practitioners Board


Michael O’Neill, Tax Practitioners Board


Michelle Allen, Superannuation and Employer Obligations


Ziva White, Individuals and Intermediaries


Apologies list




Adam O’Grady, Individuals and Intermediaries


Alex Adams, Enterprise Solutions and Technology


Emma Rosenzweig, Superannuation and Employer Obligations


Grant Brodie, Client Account Services


Melanie Casey, Individuals and Intermediaries