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Reforming the ATO – An economic recovery agenda

Thursday, October 29, 2020

At Self-Employed Australia we’ve been campaigning for a heck of a long time for reform of the ATO in the way it handles disputes—particularly with small business people. In the economic recovery from Covid, reform of the ATO must assume high importance.

Fair treatment of taxpayers is essential and this is not occurring if you find yourself in dispute with the ATO. The tax administration laws and the tax system are ‘stacked’ to enable the ATO to abuse its powers. This is bad for society and the economy.

In October 2019, SEA Executive Director Ken Phillips travelled to Washington DC to investigate how the IRS is required to treat US taxpayers. The difference between the ATO and the US’s IRS is stark. In fact the US provides a template for Australian ATO reform.

In the middle of this year Ken gave a presentation to the Monash University Tax Law Research Group on ATO reform. Here’s the 20-minute video that gives an overview of the reforms we recommend.



There are three key elements to the reform, all of which require legislation:
  • A Taxpayer Rights Code.
  • A Taxpayer Advocate with real powers.
  • Taxpayer whistleblower laws.
If you’re inclined to be bit of a ‘nerd’ on this issue, here’s Ken’s 50-page report on his findings from the USA. It’s riveting reading of course!!!

Now that the Covid recovery is underway (let’s hope it continues), government must look to every measure to help that recovery. ATO reform needs to be part of that. We’ll be doing everything we can to achieve it.
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