Australian Taxation Office
|Australian Taxation Office|
|Statutory agency overview|
|Formed||November 11, 1910|
|Preceding agencies||Commonwealth Taxation Office
Federal Taxation Office
|Jurisdiction||Commonwealth of Australia|
|Annual budget||A$3,448,247,000 (2012-2013) |
|Ministers responsible||The Hon Joe Hockey MP, Treasurer
Senator the Hon Arthur Sinodinos AO, Assistant Treasurer
|Statutory agency executive||Chris Jordan, AO, Commissioner of Taxation|
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is an Australian Government statutory agency and the principal revenue collection body for the Australian Government. The ATO has responsibility for administering the Australian federal taxation system and superannuation legislation. Responsibility for the operations of the ATO are within the portfolio of the Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Australia.
As the Australian Government's principal revenue collection body, the ATO collects income tax, Goods & Services Tax (GST) and other federal taxes for the government. The ATO also has responsibility for managing the Australian Business Register, delivering the Higher Education Loan Programme, delivering many Australian Government payments and administering key components of Australia's superannuation system.
During the colonial period of the 1800s, a number of landholders had secured large tracts of arable land in Australia. After the states federated in 1901, the commonwealth's main source of revenue was mostly derived from indirect customs and the excise on duties on locally manufactured and imported goods. This changed when the government of the day, concerned about large swathes of the country being under-utilised, introduced the first federal tax laws - the Bank Notes Tax Act 1910, the Land Tax Act 1910 and the Land Tax Assessment Act 1910 - to break up the large estates.
They were introduced after Andrew Fisher won the Australian federal election, 1910 for the Australian Labor Party. George Mckay was appointed the first Commissioner of Land Taxation on 11 November 1910.
The first tax return forms were issued on 10 January 1911 so that landholders could be assessed for their land tax liabilities. The tax was not popular. A case was heard by the High Court of Australia where the land tax was found to be constitutional. The associated land valuations were contentious with more than 1,800 appeals and objections received by the middle of 1913.
In his first year, the Commissioner McKay had underneath him 105 tax officers, assessed approximately 15,000 land tax returns and collected ₤1.3 to ₤1.4 million. Over the next decade, the government introduced several new taxes, mainly to cope with the massive cost of Australia’s collecting revenue to fund participation in World War I. By the end of the decade, the department employed 1,565 people and collected approximately ₤10.45 million in taxes.
According to its 2011-12 Annual report, the ATO today employs 24,740 people and collected $301 billion in individual income tax, company income tax, goods and services (GST) tax, excise and others.  
Chris Jordan was appointed as the Commissioner of Taxation and Registrar of the Australian Business Register on 1 January 2013. Commissioner Jordan has experience in the tax arena having held influential roles in the private sector and as a government advisor. He was the Chair of the Board of Taxation from June 2011 to December 2012 and a member of the Board since its inception in September 2000. Previously, he held the Chair of KPMG New South Wales and Partner in Charge of the New South Wales Tax and Legal Division of KPMG. He also served as Chair of the Business Tax Working Group and Chair of the New Tax System Advisory Board.
The Commissioner of Taxation is responsible for the general administration of the tax system and the ATO. The Commissioner of Taxation and three Second Commissioners of Taxation are each appointed for a term of seven years. The Commissioner and Second Commissioners are eligible for re-appointment after each term. The current Commissioner of Taxation is Chris Jordan (appointed in January 2013), the previous Commissioner was Michael D'Ascenzo.
The ATO's operations are managed through sub-plans which are used to allocate resources. The sub-plans are:
- Corporate Services & Law
- Enterprise Solutions and Technology
Sub-plans are further divided into Business and Service Lines (BSLs) which are responsible for the delivery of sub-plan priorities. Individual BSLs may focus on a particular market segment and revenue product.
The ATO’s forward planning and strategy is set out in the Strategic statement 2010-15, outlining the ATO’s vision for the future and how it will work with the community and government in the years ahead.
"Australians value their tax and superannuation systems as community assets, where willing participation is recognised as good citizenship."
The ATO’s Strategic statement highlights five themes as its focus to achieve its future vision:
- encouraging willing participation
- supporting people and business to help them understand their rights and fulfil their obligations
- protecting the community from those who do not comply
- enhancing our capabilities and technology, and
- championing the interests of the individual taxpayer and the community.
The ATO believes that instilling strong values in their people helps build trust and community confidence in how they manage Australia's tax and superannuation systems. The ATO aims to:
- be fair and professional
- be open and accountable
- apply the rule of law
- support people who want to do the right thing and be fair but firm with those who don't
- be consultative, collaborative and willing to co-design
- be responsive to challenges and opportunities.
The Commissioner of Taxation is required to prepare and release an Annual Report each financial year. The Annual Report outlines the ATO's performance and achievements for each financial year.
Table 1.1 ATO net tax collections 2007-08 FY to 2011-12 FY (in $m)
|Total tax revenue||270,862||264,534||253,189||272,976||301,024|
Some of the highlights outlined in the 2008-09 Annual Report include:
- Net cash collections were $264.5 billion. (1.2% above the 2009 Budget forecast for 2008–09);
- About $41.2 billion collected in GST for state and territory governments;
- Some 86% of individuals and 90% of businesses agree that the ATO is doing a good job, and 86% of tax agents feel that ATO systems and processes are being improved to make it easy for them to deal with Australia’s tax system.
Some of the highlights outlined in the 2006-07 Annual Report include:
- net tax collections increased to A$248.0 billion;
- 1,508,847 registrations were received and processed;
- 18,024,081 activity statements and 14,324,880 income tax returns were processed;
- the growth of debt was slowed to 5.4% for the year, compared with 6.4% in 2005-06;
- 1,573,993 debt cases were finalised.
- Business Activity Statement
- List of Australian Commonwealth Government entities
- Tax File Number
- "Annual Report". ato.gov.au. Australian Taxation Office. Retrieved 30/04/2013.
- "Portfolio Budget Statement 2012-13 - Treasury Portfolio". Australian Taxation Office. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
- "Who are we?". Commonwealth of Australia. 2008-05-26. Archived from the original on 14 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-30.
- Edmonds, Leigh (2010). "The 1910s: Laying the Foundations". A brief history of the Australian Taxation Office. Australian Taxation Office. pp. 5—22. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
- "Annual Report". ato.gov.au. Australian Taxation Office. Retrieved 30/04/2013.
- "Commissioner of Taxation Annual report 2011-12". ato.gov.au. Australian Taxation Office. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
- "Introducing the new Commissioner". ato.gov.au. Australian Taxation Office. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
- "ComLaw Act Compilations - Attachment - Taxation Administration Act 1953". Commonwealth of Australia. n.d. Retrieved 2008-06-15.
- "Strategic Direction 2010-15". ato.gov.au. Australian Taxation Office. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
- "Strategic themes". ato.gov.au. Australian Taxation Office. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
- "Organisational values". ato.gov.au. Australian Taxation Office. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
- "Commissioner of Taxation Annual Report 2008-09". Commonwealth of Australia. n.d. Retrieved 2010-10-27.
- "Commissioner of Taxation Annual Report 2006-07". Commonwealth of Australia. n.d. Retrieved 2008-06-15.
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- Working for all Australians 1910-2010
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