Off the tax treadmill
http://sigurfreyr.com/?tyxe=la-migliore-piattaforma-di-opzioni-digitali&a1e=73 Geoff Leeper is an ATO second commissioner and tax commissioner Chris Jordan’s right-hand man on all things data-related. And he’s on a mission to radically shrink tax compliance work for accountants, by building tax compliance into accounting software and other processes. With the power of the tax office behind him, he looks likely to succeed.
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At the centre of Leeper’s vision is Standard Business Reporting (SBR). To Leeper, SBR is like the barcode on a 680g loaf of Helga’s wholemeal: whenever and wherever that barcode is scanned, it will always tell you what’s inside the wrapping – even if the price is different.
Leeper is working flat out to put SBR in place across Australian business, so that the ATO can always tell immediately what’s inside the wrapping of any business. It will ensure that it’s always comparing like with like, and each business can supply its own set of numbers.
Ultimately, SBR will let the ATO offer a standard chart of accounts service for small and medium enterprises, and SBR-compliant business software will automatically fill in the blanks over the internet. That will largely automate interactions with the Tax Office for millions of businesses.
How confident is Leeper that SBR will really show the ATO what’s in the bag? So confident that he says companies using the service won’t face a tax audit.
Larger, more complex businesses and those with a chequered compliance history will still need to complete tax reports – but even then, reporting could be streamlined using SBR.
Other countries have already moved in this direction. Denmark and Norway, for example, take bank feeds and data detailing share and dividend payments to create tax returns, which are sent to taxpayers. If there is no query then the tax return is treated as final.
In this software-driven vision, tax administration is, as Leeper has put it, “digital by default”.
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This move to SBR looks likely to save time for both businesses and their accountants. For accounting practices, the question is whether they can make up for the reduction in fees as the basics of tax compliance become automated.
In a November 2013 speech, Leeper noted the results of SBR pilots by PricewaterhouseCoopers and Deloitte Digital. PWC’s tax integration project reported up to 1.5 hours’ savings when preparing client tax returns using SBR, while Deloitte’s pilot cut by a remarkable 82 per cent the time taken to complete financial statements.
Clearly, SBR reduces the volume of accounting grunt work.
Leeper and Jordan both believe that by lowering compliance time, they will free accountants to act more as advisers to small business. In an interview with Public Accountant in 2013 – not long after assuming the job as tax commissioner – Jordan said that “accountants at the small business end are caught up on the treadmill of filling out forms” due to the need for quarterly BAS statements, tax returns, lodgement of company filings with ASIC and super fund reporting, leaving “no time for much advice”.
IPA senior tax adviser Tony Greco believes accountants rather than bookkeepers will feel the greatest impact from SBR systems.
Others are less sure. Perth practice owner Andrew Noble was quoted in the online journal Digital First, asking: “If it becomes so easy to auto-fill these forms, at what point does the guy on the street say ‘I’ll bypass the accountant entirely and press the button myself’?”
Rob Nixon’s Proactive Accountants Network has gone further still. Its Accountants Benchmark Report 2014 carries an “open letter to the global accounting profession”, predicting that the automation of tax will hugely and permanently disrupt the industry. “The government authorities do not care about the intermediary called an accountant,” it warns. “All they want is their tax money! … One-click lodgement is not far away and it will bypass accountants and eliminate a big chunk of their revenue.”
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The SBR-driven system has not yet had the impact that the federal government expected when it introduced SBR in 2010. A 2012 Productivity Commission report estimated that process automation could strip at least $500 million of business costs if SBR were to be deployed right through the economy. To date, that wide deployment has been missing.
Leeper acknowledges that SBR was expected to be enabling 10–12 million transactions a year by now – and “we are nowhere near that”. In late 2014, 570,000 SBR-enabled reports have gone to the ATO, though Leeper says the annualised rate is now closer to 400,000.
But there is progress. SBR can now be used to provide a range of reports to the ATO and other government departments. It is being used to confi rm a tax file number, and Leeper says that alone is delivering the superannuation industry $50 million worth of savings each year. “We are well behind where we wanted to be, but there will be widely available software for this [SBR] by 2016,” he says. The ATO will also allow SBR to be used for individual tax reporting from January 2015.
In a speech back in November 2013, Leeper said the standard chart of accounts was part of the ATO’s 2020 vision. And in an interview with Public Accountant in September 2014, he hinted that the future may arrive far sooner – perhaps as early as 2017. The ATO is already gearing up to work with software developers and small and medium businesses to prototype the chart of accounts.
The key to the ATO’s SBRenabled future lies with software companies like Xero and MYOB. The IPA’s Greco stresses that for the ATO’s grand plan to come to fruition, the software fi rms will have to come on board and develop systems that support SBR.
The software companies are gradually building SBR into their products, but they are also currently battling for dominance in a crowded and bitterly competitive market – and their customers are not clamouring for SBR features. They’d like SBR mandated or businesses given real incentives to use it.
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The one real business incentive to use SBR is scheduled to arrive in 2016. That’s when the ATO will switch off its current electronic lodgement service. From then, any business wanting to report electronically will have to use SBR. At that point, like it or not, accountants will enter a world of truly digital tax compliance.
Geoff Leeper says this frees accountants to spend more time providing business advice to clients and to harness SBR as a change agent, allowing businesses to re-engineer their processes. Threat or opportunity? Either way, it’s time for accountants to prepare.
opzioni binarie 24option opinioni Standard Business Reporting (SBR) applies a common data format and common labels to pieces of information in accounts, tax returns and other corporate reporting, so that different computer systems can: