Date of this Version


Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Details

Bentley, Duncan (2002) The tax filing system and tax aid service in Australia Invited International speaker at the International Symposium on Japan’s Tax Reforms: In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Dr Carl S Shoup, 5 June 2002 (Tokyo) and 7 June 2002 (Osaka), Speech Notes.

Copyright © Duncan Bentley 2002. All Rights Reserved.


[Extract] That all taxpayers have the right in Australia to lodge a return is a privilege. However, many find it a heavy burden and favour simplification. Professional bodies and individuals have proposed alternatives that allow for tax withheld at source to be a final tax, eliminating the need for filing a return. There are also proposals to limit the delivery of welfare through the tax system. The aim is to remove large numbers of low-income earners from the tax net. This could have implications, however, for monitoring of welfare fraud and aspects of the cash economy. In the context of the questions that are being raised at this symposium, I believe that all proposals so far put forward in Australia do retain the right of a taxpayer to file a return should the taxpayer so wish, or should it be to their advantage. The complexity of the Australian tax system means that tax agents are now essential to its operation. The registration of tax agents ensures taxpayer protection and there are current proposals to develop a new legislative framework to further define the role of tax agents in a legislated Code of Practice. However, this has taken over ten years to develop and is still under discussion. The basic reason for the delay is that with the very close working relationship that has developed between tax agents and the Australian Taxation Office comes the danger that tax agents become agents more of the government than they do of their clients. Australian tax agents are extremely concerned not to cross that line. However, it is a line that is becoming increasingly blurred.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.