Evidence on why digitisation may inadvertently undermine the relationship of taxpayers with their government and the ATO: A new role for the Taxpayers' Charter and the Compliance Model (Submission)

    Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

    Abstract

    The ATO describes itself as "[contributing] to the economic and social wellbeing of Australians by fostering willing participation in our tax and supersystems." (https://www.ato.gov.au/General/Building-confidence/). In order for the ATO to foster "willing participation", the ATO needs to be trustworthy in the eyes of the community and act with integrity at all times-true to its mission and conducting its business in accord with the highest standards of a democratically accountable public institution. This submission provides evidence for why and how the trustworthiness of the ATO (like other public institutions) has to be earnt, and why this involves solutions beyond digitisation. On its website, the ATO recognises the importance of building taxpayer and community confidence through collecting revenue with reasonableness and fairness. The ATO's future strategic directions recognise benefits in making it easier for taxpayers to engage with the tax system, informing taxpayers promptly of any problems in their payments,and improving systems for managing non-compliance. In its bid to offer taxpayers greater simplicity and clarity, particularly through greater digitisation of tax-relevant information, there is scope for false facts on both sides -the taxpayer's and tax official's. Taxpayers may report incorrectly, tax officials may record and make inferences incorrectly. This places confidence in the tax system and willing participation at risk, unless special measures are adopted by the ATO to resolve differences in understanding and acceptance of evidence of non-compliance. Digitisation is no substitute for the continuous work needed by the ATO to explain taxpayer obligations and ATO decisions and actions.
    Original languageEnglish
    Commissioning bodyHouse of Representatives Standing Committee on Tax and Revenue
    Publication statusPublished - 2018

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