​ATO calls for public feedback on digital consultation paper

The Australian Taxation Office continues to push forward plans to improve the digital experience taxpayers have with the agency.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is calling for feedback from taxpayers on its Digital by default consultation paper, as part of proposed changes to improve the public's digital experience with the agency.

In the 2015-16 Federal Budget the federal government announced its intention to spend AU$130.9 million over four years to deliver an improved experience for taxpayers. This included delivering future administrative savings and reducing red tape for superannuation funds and individuals by removing redundant report obligations, and by streamlining lost and unclaimed streamlined superannuation administrative arrangements.

The government said it would do this through three main initiatives: A digital by default service for provision of information and making payments, improvements to data and analytics infrastructure, and enhancing streamlined income tax returns through the myTax system for taxpayers with more complex tax affairs.

Deputy commissioner Michelle Crosby said the Digital by default initiative will require most taxpayers to use ATO digital services to send and receive information and payments, except where they do not have the ability to do so, and it will also mean those who still use paper products will need to make the switch.

"More and more, people are carrying out their day-to-day business online and in the last couple of years a focus of ours has been to make sure our digital services meet the community's needs. The Digital by default initiative is an extension of this commitment," she said.

"For most people, it just makes more sense to use our online products, which offer a more personalised and convenient service."

She added that in some instances where it would not be possible to go digital due to individual circumstances, the ATO will ensure that alternative services will be made available for those people.

The closing data for feedback on the Digital by default consultation paper is January 15, 2016.

In August, ATO chief information officer Jane King boasted that it continued to work on converting paper tax lodges to electronic. At the time, the agency had managed to remove 20 million unwanted items from its paper warehouses, and 3,000 unused or out of date content.

Earlier this year, the agency also launched its myTax return lodgement system as a replacement for its e-tax application, which King said at the time hopes to see 2 million users by the end of this year.

However, during the launch of the myTax portal last year, the ATO suffered through several difficulties in the first few days. The ATO at the time pointed the finger to "intermittent errors with the authentication process" and reassured less than 1 percent of users were affected.

The delivery of the ATO initiative forms part of the federal government's wider digital transformation agenda, which is being led by the Digital Transformation Office that was formally established in July 2015.

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