Australasia is moving into a new era of revenue collection and accountants are wondering where it will leave them. The Australian Tax Office (ATO) and New Zealand’s Inland Revenue (IR) have both embarked on ambitious digitisation programs which will automate an unknown amount of compliance work.
The ATO has promised to help – ATO Assistant Commissioner Colin Walker says he wants to “assist them [accountants] to move to a digital world.” But to date the ATO has largely advocated the use of updated practice software. While this may help accountants cross the digital divide, it will also hasten the digitisation of compliance.
The ATO’s ability to collect and pre-fill data from third parties is being built directly into practice management software. Digital tax lodgement systems such as eTax/myTax allow individuals to prepare and lodge their own tax returns. They no longer need to use a registered tax accountant to prepare statements on their behalf. As the ATO continues to shift toward their vision of an entirely-digital ecosystem, accountants and firms using traditional pen and paper compliance methods are naturally feeling the pressure.
Much like the evolution of tapes to CDs, and CDs to MP3s, this digitisation should in theory open the door to new business models. Accountants need to find them before paper-based invoicing and manual data entry become obsolete. Although this transition has been years in the making, there are no guarantees that it will be smooth. The ATO’s rocky ride to SBR has been on full display with outages in December and February. When the ATO is down, everyone feels the pain.
So how can you prepare for the future? How will digitisation affect practices across the country? And what are firms – particularly the Big 4 – doing right now in anticipation for this digital shift?
The Big 4 are deeply engaged with the ATO and have insider knowledge beyond the rest of the industry. (Not only about future systems, but how well they will work. PwC has been commissioned to investigate the ATO’s last two major outages.) And the Big 4 have been experimenting with business models for years, from IT consulting to business advisory, wealth management and capital raising.
Deloitte, PwC, KPMG and EY take to the stage and share how they will operate in a world of digitised compliance at this year’s Accounting Business Expo, held on the 21-22 March at Sydney’s ICC Exhibition Centre, Darling Harbour.
Get free tickets for yourself and your team directly at www.AccountingBusiness.com.au
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