The ATO’s Consultation Arrangements

As some members may be aware, the Commissioner of Taxation made a number of announcements in relation to the ATO’s consultation arrangements at the recent National Tax Liaison Group meeting.

The Tax Institute is aware of the need for effective consultation to ensure the best outcome in tax law design, implementation and interpretation.

As both the ATO and many members expend significant resources in consultation, the ATO’s efforts to target those resources to maximise benefit from our mutual investment are welcome.

We are broadly supportive of the objectives of and principles underpinning this proposed framework. Furthermore, we broadly agree that both the ATO and external participants stand to benefit from the potential synergies in a central consultation model or “hub”. We also foresee that this model has the potential to increase the effectiveness of consultation and may be better suited to ensuring that the ATO consults on the right issues with the right people at the right time, in comparison to the current consultation model.

However, we are also aware that many of the necessary implementation details are not included in the consultation framework as presented. We are currently working with the ATO to address further development and implementation considerations. These include the best manner in which the professional associations can assist the ATO in the agency’s pursuit of these objectives. We are also discussing the ongoing role that the professional associations can and should play in relation to the hub, as well as some aspects of the hub’s design that would be of benefit to the new consultation framework.

Our CEO Noel Rowland continues his visits to each state to continue discussions around our strategy and member engagement. This has provided fantastic input to assist our leadership group, develop strategy and for the Institute to remain relevant to our members. Keep the input coming.

Trust reform continues to challenge all involved, given the current government priorities. It is hoped that government will not lose sight of what was intended by this process. The aim was to simplify and provide clarity to the 700,000 plus trusts that operate in Australia. It was not to add additional anti-avoidance clauses to the legislation or complicate trust administration. It had a name of bringing together trust law concepts and trust tax law concepts to simplify administration for all who use them.

The financial year is upon us all. I hope that the next financial year is prosperous for you all. One thing for certain is that it will bring change.


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.


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