Effective consultation is integral to ensuring the best outcome in tax law design, implementation and interpretation. This underscores the importance of the ATO getting its new consultation model right. The new arrangements were unveiled earlier this year, but they are only now starting to bed down.
The ATO now has eight key stewardship committees representing key relationships and systems, incorporating four liaison groups and four advisory groups covering major market segments and products. There are also 14 stakeholder relationship and management groups and 11 technical and special purpose groups focusing on specific issues for resolution. I won’t reproduce all of the committees/groups here, but please refer to the ATO consultation framework for further detail.
The Tax Institute’s members have a long history of engaging in consultation to develop and apply tax laws in the national interest. Our consultation efforts have spanned across technical issues, industry focused issues and ATO systems-related issues, as well as policy design.
With this is mind, on 29 November 2013 I attended the inaugural meeting of the Consultation Steering Group. The group comprises ATO, Treasury and professional bodies and is designed to keep a watchful eye overall tax consultation. The Steering Group will have a role in deciding how best to handle issues that emerge, including potential areas of reform that traditionally have been a Treasury domain.
At the meeting, we discussed the appropriate scope of the work for the Steering Group, such that it operates effectively and identifies significant matters for consultation and resolution.
The ATO website now contains a list of matters currently being consulted upon and this will be regularly updated to ensure visibility over the resolution of issues raised. Issues raised by The Tax Institute and other bodies as well as individuals will appear on this list, with details of the issue status and a contact officer.
The Tax Institute remains broadly supportive of the new consultation model, as it has the potential to increase the effectiveness of consultation and ensure that both the ATO and Treasury are dealing with the right issues by engaging with the right people at the right time.
I look forward to regular meetings of the Steering Group to ensure that this is the case.
Robert Jeremenko CTA is Senior Tax Counsel of 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.