Assistant Treasurer acknowledges ATO’s IT outages are a ‘constant source of concern’ for accountants
Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar has acknowledged that the ATO’s IT outages have been a “constant source of concern” for accountants, and vowed to substantially improve the relationship accountants have with the Tax Office.
Speaking to a room full of accountants at the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) annual national congress, Mr Sukkar underlined his support for the profession and said he recognised their pivotal importance to the success of small business clients.
The Assistant Treasurer emphasised that over the course of his term, his focus will be to substantially increase the quality of the relationship accountants have with the Tax Office.
Asked about the failure of the CDDA scheme to address concerns voiced by the professional accounting associations around the issues arising from the ATO’s IT outages and system failures, Mr Sukkar admitted he was aware of the “constant” problems.
“The CDDA review and our response I think has been quite significant. I would never profess that that review of its own is the silver bullet to all issues that advisers and accountants face when interacting with the ATO, and I know IT has been a constant source of concern,” he said.
Mr Sukkar, however, noted that he prefers to focus on the improvements to the CDDA regime that the government is progressing.
“As far as building in that cultural change inside the ATO, I think it’s a very important signal from government and a big stick in the end that sits there to really drive that cultural change in the ATO and ensure that, to the greatest extent possible in an extraordinarily large organisation, those interactions and those decisions are fair,” Mr Sukkar said.
He explained that where “inevitably” decisions or administration from the ATO leads to a loss, “small businesses should have a realistic option of being compensated”.
Earlier this month, it was revealed that the 12 recommendations made to government by the Independent Review of the Compensation for Detriment Caused by Defective Administration (CDDA Scheme) fail to address the ATO’s technology outages. Instead the review characterises IT outages and system failures as the norm when working with “large computer systems”, despite numerous arguments to the contrary.
The review, conducted by former secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department Robert Cornall, received submissions about the effect that the ATO’s IT outages and system failures can have on tax professionals.
The three professional bodies, including the IPA, argued that the CDDA scheme should be revisited to allow practitioners to claim compensation for the ATO’s failures, which affect their ability to provide timely tax services to clients.