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Standing Committee on Tax and Revenue

24 November 2014

 

Mr ALEXANDER (Bennelong) (12:10): On behalf of the Standing Committee on Tax and Revenue, I present the 2013 Annual Report of the Australian Taxation Office: Second Report.

Report made a parliamentary paper in accordance with standing order 39(e).

Mr ALEXANDER: by leave—I am very pleased to conclude the Standing Committee on Tax and Revenue’s first full year of operation with the tabling of the committee’s second report on tax administration. The report focusses on the evidence from the committee’s hearing with the tax office and stakeholders in August. Throughout the year the committee formed good working relationships with the Commissioner of Taxation and his executive, the Ombudsman, the Inspector-General of Taxation and industry stakeholders. I believe that we have firmly established our role as a scrutineer of the Australian Taxation Office and are well-positioned to provide ongoing oversight of tax administration in Australia.

The tax office has made progress on many of the issues raised during the first public hearing of the inquiry in February. I commend the agency for its introduction of streamlined key performance indicators, its commitment to estimate the tax gap and its efforts to address the findings of the Australian Public Service Commission’s capability review. It is very encouraging to see the tax office take its first steps towards ‘no touch’ tax returns with the introduction of myTax—a streamlined lodgement process which prefills details for taxpayers with simple tax affairs. This development has brought the tax office closer to international best practice and has made it easier for taxpayers to engage with the Australian tax system.

At the committee’s first hearing, the tax office reported that it was consulting with international experts regarding the feasibility of tax gap estimations. Less than a year on, it has announced a phased implementation of the tax gap, which is guided by a definitive timetable. Parliamentary committees have long been interested in the tax office’s pursuit of a tax gap estimation. I am pleased to see the commissioner driving this work.

Likewise, the tax office is making good progress developing the capabilities identified by the Australian Public Service Commission’s review. Since February it has begun planning for the future of its information and communication infrastructure and has introduced a range of contemporary, new online services to support taxpayers and small businesses. It has almost finalised a series of workforce reductions and is concluding the closure of some regional offices.

Despite this downscaling of the tax office workforce, I am confident that the agency can continue to build and refine the initiatives and work programs it has set in motion. I am looking forward to commencing the inquiry into the 2014 annual report of the tax office early next year. My colleagues on the committee and I anticipate further discussions on the tax gap and consideration of issues like ‘no touch’ tax returns, the cash economy, the lodgement program for tax agents and the Tax Agent Portal.

We believe that the ability of the Tax Office to address these issues is critical to its role as a tax administrator. They will also support compliance by making it easier for taxpayers to engage with the system, regardless of the complexity of their tax affairs.

On behalf of the committee, I would like to sincerely thank the commissioner, his executive, the ombudsman, the Inspector-General of Taxation and industry stakeholders for engaging with the committee and supporting this inquiry into the 2013 annual report of the Tax Office. I would also like to recognise the outstanding work of the committee secretariat in providing members with every level of preparation and support required. Their efforts are crucial to the success of this committee.

I believe this inquiry has set the committee on a firm footing to provide effective and ongoing oversight of tax administration in Australia. I commend the report to the House.