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ATO’s MyTax to simplify tax returns

by Michael Read •
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Treasurer Joe Hockey has announced that 1.4 million taxpayers will be freed from the hassle of completing a tax return with the unveiling of the ATO’s new system to pre-fill tax returns.

The new system, to be known as MyTax, will allow people to lodge their 2013-14 tax return through a smartphone, tablet or computer, according to the media release.

The ATO did not approach the market for the development of the new system.

“The system changes for MyTax are being managed internally as a part of the ATO’s ongoing efforts to make it easier for Australians to meet their tax obligations. The delivery of MyTax is being managed as a part of our existing ICT operating budget and is undergoing final testing so it is available for lodgement of the 2014 individual income tax returns. As the process is managed internally, there are no related procurements for software development services,” an ATO spokesperson told Intermedium.

The system will pre-fill an individual’s tax return from the ATO’s database.  Taxpayers will only be required to review or change the pre-filled information before lodging their tax return.

MyTax will be appropriate for wage and salary earners with bank interest, dividends and straightforward tax deductions. The trial will be expanded to 4.5 million taxpayers between 2015 and 2016 when it is expected that the system will be capable of integrating with third-party information from real estate agents and stockbrokers.

In a separate announcement two days later, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann announced that the Australian Taxation Office’s online services, including the new MyTax system, are now accessible through myGov.

“Australians can now link the Australian Taxation Office’s online services to their myGov account and will soon be able to complete MyTax or e-tax using myGov as their authentication,” states the release.

Online member services for Medicare, Centrelink, Child Support, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, the National Disability Insurance Scheme and e-Health are other services currently linked to myGov.

MyTax addresses review findings

In December 2013, a capability review by the Public Service Commission found that the ATO’s systems did not meet the expectations of citizens and businesses.

According to the review, the ATO spends more than $760 million annually on computer systems. A planned $70 million investment to modernise the ATO’s systems is unlikely to be enough to address the agency’s technical deficiencies, states the review.

The review singled out the ATO’s lack of electronic systems to pre-fill individuals’ tax returns.

“A challenge facing all revenue authorities is the ability to make use of natural systems already in place in taxpayers’ business and personal lives to fully pre-fill individuals’ tax returns. Denmark is the most advanced country, with 78 per cent of individuals’ tax returns completely pre-filled… Denmark, Ireland, Norway and the United Kingdom are the most advanced here, with digital and eGovernment strategies now in place”, states the review.

If successful, MyTax will go a long way in addressing the review’s criticism.

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