Professional Services Reference Group
The Professional Services Reference Group consists of tax practitioners and ATO representatives who will focus on understanding administrative issues directly affecting tax and BAS agents, and working together to develop practical solutions to those issues as the ATO prepares for Tax Time 2018.
The first meeting showcased a demonstration of the ATO's new Online service for agents, that will replace the current tax and BAS agent portals. Similar functionality is being made available to Digital Service Providers so they can include these in practice management software.
The members discussed known issues and prioritised what will be looked at in the coming months.
The initial priorities agreed on at the meeting were:
- Aspects of the debt experience, focusing on pain points in the current processes which include, but are not limited to; inconsistency in contact, advice and timeframes, payment plans, communication and expectations as well as the currency of information provided.
- Tailored engagement with tax practitioners, with a focus on supporting agents who try and do the right thing.
- Streamlining and reducing inconsistency in proof of identity procedures.
- Working with the profession around acceptable industry service standards.
- Correcting inconsistencies in ATO systems such as recording of client address details. The group highlighted that any inconsistency in their dealings with the ATO negatively impacts their experience, and greater consistency should be a goal across all the priorities.
Debt Workshop Summary
The Professional Services Reference Group (PSRG) met with senior tax officers from the Debt business line on 1st February 2018. The purpose of the workshop was to discuss the debt experience from the client and tax practitioner perspective, and identify opportunities for improvement that were not already being addressed by other ATO projects.
Attendees were walked through the ATO's debt experience and had an opportunity to identify pain points in the current process. They were also shown a representation of some of the actions the ATO takes to recover debts and discussed current projects underway to improve the client experience.
Matters raised during the discussion were grouped into four themes:
- Timing and alignment of lodgment and payment and alignment of BAS lodgment dates
- Purposeful correspondence – timing, clarity and consistency
- Transparency and visibility of debt process and treatment to make it easier for agents to have conversations with their clients
- Consistency of process and treatment
Smaller groups then each worked on one theme to unpick the real problem and brainstorm mutually practical solutions. Going forward, these smaller groups, consisting of both tax practitioners and ATO officers, will work as individual project teams to progress and implement solutions.
Amanda Linton (CEO & Director of ICB) and Darren McMahon (Fellow Member of ICB) attend this ATO consultation.
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