Support swells for scrapping simple tax returns

The government has been pushed to scrap tax returns for Australians with simple tax affairs, saying it would increase administrative ease, according to mid-tier firms.

Echoing the recommendation of the Henry review, Pitcher Partners managing director Leon Mok believes scrapping tax returns for simple tax affairs would benefit an “overly complex” tax system.

“By removing the requirement for a tax return for people with basic tax affairs, it would certainly be simpler and improve administrative ease — key points in a good tax change,” said Mr Mok.

“Given the removal of the requirement to lodge a return for small taxpayers would not likely have a major impact on revenue, the change would have limited effect on the adequacy of the tax system. And a simplified system would achieve greater transparency.”

Likewise, Crowe Horwath senior partner Trevor Pascall believes the ATO holds enough data of tax payers to adopt a return-free environment.

“The ATO has massively developed its ability to collect and analyse a huge amount of data for all Australians,” said Mr Pascall.

“During my time at the ATO in the ’90s, we discussed the future of returns – back then it was largely a pipe dream as technology at the time was not capable of managing such a mammoth task

“The ATO now has a wealth of data and the ability to analyse it in a way that is more efficient than having individuals lodge independently.”

However, Mr Mok said simply scrapping returns across the board might disadvantage certain tax payers who have unusual claims.

“Removing the requirement to lodge a return and replacing it with a standardised rate and deduction amount may negatively impact some taxpayers who have high work-related deductions,” added Mr Mok.

“These deductions are among the most commonly claimed and the total value of work-related deductions has been rising, but they are onerous to substantiate and taxpayers face both complexity and compliance costs in proving their expenses were incurred in earning assessable income.

“Providing taxpayers with substantial deductions the option of lodging a return, however, would cancel out any disadvantage.”

8 thoughts on “Support swells for scrapping simple tax returns

  • February 16, 2018 at 2:54 pm

    Personally, I believe there will be only one winner from this, the Federal Government. This is a process that has been in place in the UK for some years. In preparing tax return here for people who have migrated to Australia, I often received comments when discussing deductions. In general, they were ‘in the UK, we did not have to lodge returns, so we did not. Most of the deductions we are discussing here, we could have claimed in the UK, but because we did not lodge a return, we did not get the deduction. It appears we paid more tax in the UK that we needed to.’ Generally people will take the easy option, so the winner will be the ATO & Federal Government. Also, look at the other side. If standard deductions are brought in, those with no expenses will be winners. Those with work related expenses will need to make arrangements with their employers to cover the cost, reduce income. Another form of salary sacrifice?

  • February 16, 2018 at 3:20 pm

    @ Its unfair for tax agents who has studied for four years in the university and trained for 5 years to become a registered tax agents as requested by the tax practitioners board.
    @ most of the taxpayer these days spend monies on their jobs such as Presentation, tools, stationery. and even cleaning staff as well as training courses specially while most of small to medium size business are struggling with the economy downturn and miracle y are trying to handle the overhead expenses including the property leasing charges and the weekly salary payments..

    form one point.

  • February 16, 2018 at 3:22 pm

    my opinion as i have been working in the taxation industry since 1988 is

  • February 16, 2018 at 3:23 pm


  • February 16, 2018 at 5:28 pm

    The mid tier firms no not deal with middle working class taxpayers who yes have to learn to keep proper records for legal deductions .Tradies employed in building industry can vary widely on deductions.

  • February 19, 2018 at 3:12 pm

    Needs to seen for what it is. Abolishing “I” returns is just another tax grab by politicians who are inept at balancing their budget.

  • February 20, 2018 at 4:15 pm

    Going to put a lot of smaller accounting firms out of business or a lot of people looking for new employment…. Guessing this will only happen if its in the ATO/Governments favour.

  • February 26, 2018 at 9:07 am

    I agree with above. I hope the IPA backs its smaller business members! If not, I wonder how many members the IPA will loose?

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