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ATO Commissioner says it's time to champion a digital mindset
Wed, 6th Sep 2023

In his final speech as Australia’s 12th Commissioner of Taxation, Chris Jordan AO says the future of tax must be digital and data-driven.

Jordan spoke during his keynote session at The Tax Summit 2023, hosted by The Tax Institute. Jordan emphasised improving digital uptake among Australian taxpayers in his final speech to the Tax Institute as Commissioner.

Jordan joined the ATO in 2013 and was the first Commissioner to be appointed from outside the organisation in its over 100-year history. Jordan set out the vision to ‘Reinvent the ATO’. 

The decade since has seen the ATO successfully modernise and bring its service in line with community expectations. However, Jordan has reiterated that a mindset shift is still needed for these increased digital services to take off.

“We know the future of tax is digital and data-driven,” says Jordan. 

“Together, we need to get taxpayers to change their mindset around going digital and getting to a point where everything is built into a wider system and is instant.”

Jordan called on tax professionals to strengthen digital capabilities, bolster system safeguards against fraud and work together to change taxpayers’ mindset around going digital. 

“There needs to be an increased uptake of our digital services, it’s 2023, and we can’t still be receiving close to 1 million paper activity statements and sending out cheques,” says Jordan.

This mindset shift must include tax professionals who own businesses. Jordan revealed that more than one in five of the 1.4 million calls the ATO answered this financial year have been from tax professionals, many regarding activity that can be self-served through the ATO’s online services.

The ATO says Improvements are on their way to make access to information more accessible, including a new website coming later this year featuring an improved look and user experience.

As these services increasingly move online, the ATO plans to extend its digital security to help tax professionals address issues like identity theft and fraud. 

“Our client-agent linking is soon to be rolled out to all companies, trusts, and partnerships with an ABN,” says Jordan.

“While it adds an extra step to the agent-linking process, it’s about strengthening the security of our online services by making sure all parties, including agents and their clients, can be confident only authorised people have access to client information.”

With only six months left at the helm of the ATO, Jordan is determined not to slow down. “My focus is making decisions to set the ATO up for continued success and maintain the strong foundations we built.”

As Jordan prepares to pass on his role, he reflects on the progress made since 2013 and his vision for the future, which is to be not just the best revenue authority in the world or Australian public service agency but to be measured against the private sector, the best companies with a complex client base. 

“Achieving the highest satisfaction rating of 82% of people dealing with us is a good indicator of us moving towards this vision,” says Jordan.

“I hope the lessons of the last decade will mean in future we will all be faster to adapt, more willing to innovate, and ready to continue moving forward together.”