Institute of Certified Bookkeepers

The ATO (Australian Tax Office) is subject to enhanced media at the moment about their treatment of Small Business. While there are instances which could be better, overall the ATO are not all that bad.

Recently the media reported about cases of cancelled ABN's. It happens. Sometimes it happens when it appears it should not have. In those cases that we become aware of, we have been able to get the situation remedied very quickly.

The Complex Issues Resolution Unit available to registered Agents is a great way to get a matter escalated and dealt with properly beyond what might otherwise be the scripted response.

Media has also attacked the ATO treatment of small business.

Not everything is perfect, and the ATO make mistakes both with specific sets of circumstances and also some of its delivery of solutions.

We are currently in discussions over the recent changes to the Super Clearing House (SBSCH) which moved from the DHS computers into the ATO environment. The journey of change involved redesign that we were not aware of, and has drastically impacted the use of the Clearing House.

As a Professional Association heavily involved in representing our ICB Bookkeeper community, we are also representing the voice of business. We engage with the ATO frequently in providing a business perspective to their thinking. We don't always get our way, but we make a difference.

Our experience remains that the ATO is keen to be an active participant and respondant to matters and discussions that effect us in business. They actively bring ideas to the discussions, and typically engage in discussions, and typically allow their thinking to be modified.

Are we 100% happy with the ATO? No.

Do we believe they are trying to be the most effective regulator of tax and super system possible? Yes.

In our view, the ATO has a part to play as the regulator. Intermediaries / Tax Professionals (including BAS Agents and Bookkeepers) have their role to act as a filter; an assistant, and a communicator about the Tax and Super Systems to the Business person. The Business has a role to play as a taxpayer, and to be compliant with the agreed law.

ATO response about the full picture of “How the ATO works with and for small business”.

We work with Deb Jenkins, the Deputy Commissioner of Small Business, who advises the following:

  • We are proud of the work we have done over the past few years to improve the experience of small businesses in dealing with the ATO, and the transformation of our culture to focus on client service and early intervention.
  • We know the overwhelming majority of small businesses want to do the right thing, so we focus on delivering new tools to make things easier as well as provide customised support for small business when they need it.
  • We regularly engage with small businesses, their agents, their associations and other representatives to continue to refine and improve their experience with the tax and super systems.

ATO Responds to the media articles

  • Updated 4th May 2018 (original 12th April 2018)