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It’s not likely many tax practitioners will learn the Auditor-Normal’s record, tabled in Parliament on 15 August, in regards to the ATO’s engagement with tax practitioners. However its findings will probably be of hobby to maximum of them.

My feedback are from the lens of my interactions with tax brokers (of which I’m one). Alternatively, my revel in has been as an adviser to tax brokers and likewise because the tax suggest of a pro frame whose individuals comprised tax brokers.


The Australian Nationwide Audit Place of work made a number of findings and suggestions.


  1. The ATO is in large part efficient in imposing its tax practitioner engagement actions.
  2. The ATO has a partially efficient strategic framework for attractive with tax practitioners.
  3. The ATO has a in large part efficient strategy to consulting tax practitioners to tell the advance of its technique, services and products and beef up.
  4. The ATO supplies in large part efficient services and products and beef up for tax practitioners.


  1. In finalising its overarching tax practitioner engagement technique, the ATO extra obviously hyperlinks its methods to its tax practitioner engagement targets and higher keep in touch its strategic engagement way with practitioners.
  2. The ATO expand a efficiency framework that gives a foundation for assessing its efficiency in attractive with tax practitioners to reach environment friendly and efficient taxation and superannuation techniques.
  3. The ATO record variety standards to beef up transparency, consistency and variety in choice of tax practitioners for status and particular goal session teams.
  4. The ATO discuss with tax practitioners to raised perceive their considerations in regards to the registered agent telephone line and use this comments to lead the advance of long term provider choices.

The above statements are taken verbatim from the record. The ATO has agreed with the entire suggestions of the ANAO.


First, I should defer to and recognise the significantly better get entry to to data that the ANAO has in comparison to my many anecdotal conversations with tax brokers. I haven’t any doubt that the ANAO implemented itself assiduously to this record and produced non-biased findings and suggestions.

I should additionally recognise that this is a sparkling touch upon our democracy and political device {that a} division such because the ANAO is authorized to adopt an investigation like this and report back to Parliament with out worry or favour.

Alternatively, I will be able to’t lend a hand feeling that many tax brokers might really feel disenchanted with the full findings of the ANAO. I’ve heard such a lot of offended tax brokers who’re annoyed with the ATO and the pro our bodies that constitute them. They’re annoyed with the pro our bodies as a result of they don’t consider the ones our bodies constitute them correctly in ATO session boards in regards to the “nitty-gritty” workings of the tax device.

There are numerous issues that tax brokers revel in each day and there appears to be no trail to solving these items. Tax brokers regularly interact in workarounds with device and make phone calls to the ATO to proper mistakes and care for a myriad of problems that come throughout the ATO pipeline.

A staggering statistic

There’s a statistic quoted within the ANAO record that I believe is each telling and staggering. Within the 12 months ended 30 June 2021 there have been 1.5 million phone calls made to the ATO through tax brokers. By way of my tough calculations, this is about one phone name for each and every 10 taxpayers handled through tax brokers. From my working out of coping with many tax brokers, those calls are typically about one thing that the tax agent can’t repair via On-line services and products for brokers.

I imagine this to be an excessively vital observation of ways the device that tax brokers use to care for the tax device and with the ATO isn’t operating successfully. Why do tax brokers want to make a choice to the ATO for one in 10 shoppers? Keep in mind that tax brokers produce other on-line strategies of speaking with the ATO. Which means that the selection of inquiries being directed on the ATO from tax brokers is statistically large. If the device was once working successfully, this is able to no longer be important.

Recognize actuality

I take no excitement in pronouncing that many tax brokers are annoyed. I take no excitement in criticising the ATO. I, and all different tax brokers, have issues which are some distance higher and extra productive to do. However, I merely wish to indicate my revel in as the typical tax agent and the findings of the ANAO don’t appear to align with my revel in. Additional, the suggestions of the ANAO don’t give me any self belief that the issues tax brokers revel in are going to be mounted any time quickly.

The session procedure

The ANAO made the remark: “Tax practitioner consultations reviewed through the ANAO are widely in keeping with the Australian Public Provider requirements for engagement.”

That can be so however that doesn’t imply they’re efficient.

I do know that the ATO prides itself at the vary of consultations that it does habits with tax practitioners, and I do assume it will have to be happy with the trouble, price and time it places into this procedure. I additionally know that the ATO perspectives those session processes significantly and sees them as vital.

Alternatively, my revel in has been that the grassroots issues of practitioners with ATO techniques and body of workers aren’t being heard to any nice extent. Tax brokers are annoyed as a result of there appears to be no trail to fixing the unending problems they revel in. The consultative boards aren’t attaining a option to those issues.

A ‘no-brainer’

This is an simple reality: the tax device would cave in if it weren’t for the tax brokers and the device this is depending on the ones brokers to manage. Why is that this so? It’s because the Australian tax device is way more advanced than the general public can care for. It takes extremely skilled individuals who (compulsorily) spend many hours annually regularly studying in regards to the device to be ready to give an explanation for it to taxpayers and perform it on behalf of the ones taxpayers.

The federal government wishes income. The ATO is owed a large quantity of (undisputed) cash through taxpayers who’ve no longer paid on time. It sort of feels to me to be a “no brainer” for the federal government to pour sources into the people who find themselves absolute best ready to lend a hand carry income and to assemble cash. Those are the tax brokers!

Tax brokers line the important trail to the federal government amassing taxation cash from the inhabitants. Pouring sources into making the duties of tax brokers as simple and as environment friendly as conceivable will pay off the federal government more than one instances over.

Construct virtually fail-proof techniques. Ensure that tax brokers can get any query replied successfully (this ceaselessly doesn’t occur). Be sure that any alternate to the device of On-line services and products for brokers is carefully examined in order that it’s are compatible for goal and doesn’t fail.

Ensure that all ATO techniques are on-line and functioning correctly virtually 100 according to cent of the time. And so on.

In my view a senior ATO officer (2nd Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner) will have to be appointed with the only accountability of making sure that the tax agent device works as absolute best as it will probably. There can be an excessively vital pay-off for the rustic if this had been to be finished.

John Jeffreys is a Melbourne tax agent.

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