In a speech to the CPA Congress in Canberra on 17 October 2013, Tax Office (“ATO”) Second Commissioner Neil Olesen outlined plans for “push” tax returns for Australian individual taxpayers as from 2014. He said:
“The ATO has substantial amounts of information about taxpayers and for those with simple returns, we estimate that on current policy settings we could initially offer a ‘push’ tax return for as many as 1.4 million people, and in fact are aiming to do so next year (2014).
The key principle here is to use the information we already routinely receive about taxpayers affairs (for example, salary and wage income, bank interest, shares and dividends) to send the tax return to the taxpayer, rather than the current way where all we offer is a pre-fill service while still requiring the taxpayer to prepare and lodge a return each year.
In Australia there are some reasons why we could not offer this service widely (eg some complex deductions) but over time and with some careful and creative thinking we think we could effectively liberate around 4.5 million taxpayers from any significant response burden at tax time.”
Interestingly, the Australian Financial Review’s Agnes King reported on 22 October 2013 “Corner store tax agents are confident the federal government’s plans to supply 1.4 million people with pre-populated electronic tax returns to which they tick “yes” or “no” will not have a material impact on business.”
In this connection, some 75% of Australian individual taxpayers lodge their returns using a Tax Agent.