We continue to monitor and respond to changes to the Tax Agent Services Act 2009, in particular the registration and educational requirements for tax (financial product) advisers. We note that the standard is currently set for tax agents and wish to ensure that consumers continue to be afforded a high level of protection by ensuring that the educational and ethical standards are maintained.
I attended the National Tax Liaison Group (NTLG) meeting with the Commissioner of Taxation and his senior staff. The new Commissioner’s views, expressed at our National Convention, were again articulated in his address to the NTLG. Importantly, this included the ATO’s review of its external consulting arrangements. It was pleasing to see that the view I expressed, in a previous President’s Report, about consultation being a genuine two-way process, is included in the review, along with other concerns expressed by The Tax Institute. We look forward to being part of this review. We continue to have fruitful discussions with regard to obtaining greater clarity around the ATO’s view on various aspects of tax legislation.
The Inspector General of Taxation (IGT) made reference to this in his review into improving the self-assessment system. He noted that “the ATO had not given full effect to the ROSA recommendations in relation to making ATO advice more accessible, timely and binding in a wide range of cases”. This is of concern as the rate of new or amended legislation continues to grow.
The IGT recommended better synchronisation of the release of legislation with ATO public binding advice — an approach the professional bodies have instigated in relation to the application of Pt IVA. We will continue to push this process as part of tripartite consultation practices with the ATO, Treasury and affected parties. We would appreciate feedback on other areas of tax law that you think would benefit from further public guidance via the same approach.
On a final note, thank you to all who contributed to our 28th National Convention in Perth. It was a pleasure to be part of such a well-organised and attended event. The feedback on the quality of papers confirms the continued high standard of delivery from our presenters. Congratulations to Ken Schurgott, CTA, who was awarded life membership for his services to The Tax Institute. I fully endorse this award as I know the enormous amount of time donated by Ken, not only during his year as president, but also in the many years prior to that.
At our National Convention, we formally acknowledged our 70th anniversary with a video presentation recognising our achievements during this time. Hopefully you will all get to see the video and help us celebrate at other functions during the year. We are 70 years young.
I look forward to next year’s 29th National Convention in Hobart from 26 to 28 March 2014. Please put it in your diary now.
Stephen Westaway is President of the National Council at The Tax Institute.
The Tax Institute is Australia's leading professional association in tax. Its 13,000 members include tax agents, accountants and lawyers as well as tax practitioners in corporations, government and academia.