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Morrison and Shorten both committed to ATO reform on small business treatment

Monday, May 13, 2019

You’ll be aware that our biggest campaigning push over the last two years has been for major reform to the ATO. Here’s the history of our battle.

We’ve congratulated both the Morrison Coalition and Shorten’s Labor for recognising that there are big problems with the ATO’s mistreatment of small business people. The evidence is overwhelming.

What’s been important is that both Morrison and Shorten have responded.

  • Shorten’s Labor has promised to implement an Independent Second Commissioner inside the ATO to conduct independent reviews of the ATO’s behaviour. Although this is positive, our problem is that it’s inside the ATO and not external. External ATO oversight is essential.
  • The Morrison government not only responded but acted. It set up a new external Small Business Tax Tribunal that began operating on 1 March this year. This is a huge step forward for small business people in seeking tax administration justice by the ATO. We are full of praise for the Morrison government in acting, not just promising. See here and here.
We’re pleased to announce, however, that the Labor Party has formally committed to the Small Business Tax Tribunal. Formal election correspondence to us from Australian Labor states, “Labor will continue the Small Business Tax Tribunal”. See the correspondence here.

We’ve asked both parties if they would commit to securing the Small Business Tax Tribunal in legislation. (It’s currently constructed through regulation which can easily be undone without Parliamentary approval.) Neither political party would commit to this so close to the election but both have undertaken to consider consultative processes.

In our assessment of the Morrison Coalition and Shorten Labor on this issue we give them both major ticks of approval. The Coalition is slightly ahead because it devised and acted on the Small Business Tax Tribunal. We would have liked to have seen commitments to legislation.

Election comment authorised by Ken Phillips, Melbourne.
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