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A more responsive and client-focused bureaucracy?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

It was pleasing to see the recent announcement from Small Business Minister Bruce Billson that there will be ‘Tougher checks on bureaucrats to help small business’ (see this article from The Australian). Billson said:

“We want to ensure the Commonwealth organises itself to be more responsive and client-focused to small business rather than expecting bureaucratic administrative convenience to trump …” 

We’d suggest that the Minister start by looking at the Australian Taxation Office.

In mid-August we sent a series of questions to the Tax Commissioner and have just received his reply, for which we are thankful. The reply and our questions are here and show how bureaucrats typically communicate with people.

We asked:
  • Why has the ATO changed its policy on issuing ABNs? The reply says that that’s “…a matter for government”.
  • Will the ATO’s Alternative Dispute Resolution have mediators drawn from outside the ATO? The reply says, “Our in-house facilitators are ATO officers who are impartial and independent of the dispute.”

Other replies were more helpful and related to issues that a number of self-employed people have raised with us. You’ll find the responses of interest if you are:
  • Affected by the ‘Freelance’ dispute.
  • Can’t claim entitlement to superannuation deductions due to the “10% rule”!
  • Worried about tax depreciation under the mining tax repeal.
  • A casual worker affected by the Tax Free Threshold.

One often feels sorry for bureaucrats because they are frequently caught in policy squeezes. But, that said, an effective economy needs quality bureaucrats. One group in the USA has mapped the best/worst ‘red tape’ states in the USA. It's worth a look.


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