Appendix 5: External scrutineers' reports

Australian National Audit Office

There were three performance audits specific to the ATO tabled. The complete audit reports are available at

Details of the ANAO’s financial audits of the ATO are provided in Volume 2 of this report.

TABLE 4.7 ANAO reports, 2015–16



Strategies and activities to address the cash and hidden economy

(tabled 26 April 2016)

The objective of the audit was to assess the effectiveness of the ATO’s strategies and activities to address the cash and hidden economy.

The ANAO made two recommendations relating to:

  • developing indicators and targets for the measures of success for the ATO’s overarching framework for the cash and hidden economy
  • reporting to government on the indirect revenue achievement from that Budget measure.

We agreed with both recommendations.

Administration of Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) debt and repayments

(tabled 5 May 2016)

The objective of the audit was to assess the effectiveness of the administration of HELP debts and repayments, and how the ATO fulfils its responsibilities to the Department of Education and Training, employers and payees.

The ANAO conducts a yearly audit of HELP for financial statements purposes; however, this year was the first time the ANAO conducted a performance audit of HELP.

The ANAO made five recommendations aimed at:

  • simplifying and improving the debt recording process
  • improving the management of risks associated with HELP and supporting Education’s and the ATO’s compliance with risk management requirements
  • providing assurance that compliance risks associated with HELP are effectively identified and mitigated
  • supporting the design of HELP and better informing key stakeholders in the higher education sector
  • enabling informed decision making regarding HELP.

We agreed with all recommendations.

Administration of tobacco excise equivalent goods

(tabled 5 May 2016)

The objective of the audit was to assess the effectiveness of the administration of tobacco excise equivalent goods, and the collection of customs duty.

The ANAO made four recommendations aimed at:

  • improving the information technology platform currently in use, and the exchange of information between the respective agencies
  • developing specific guidelines and procedural documentation for the administration of customs warehouses
  • jointly improving the assessment of risk associated with the administration of excise equivalent goods
  • improving the effectiveness of compliance activities associated with the storage and movement of excise equivalent goods.

We agreed with all recommendations.


Inspector-General of Taxation

The Inspector-General of Taxation (IGT) released two reports relating to the ATO. The reports are available at

TABLE 4.8 Inspector-General of Taxation reports, 2015–16



Debt collection

(released by IGT 14 July 2015)

The objective of the review was to look into all aspects of the ATO’s approach to debt collection.

The IGT made 19 recommendations relating to:

  • debt analysis, strategies and programs to minimise tax debt
  • improved consultation and communication
  • improving ATO processes and systems to further support staff capability, client service and proportionate recovery actions
  • debt assistance activities
  • more timely and proportionate debt recovery activities
  • aligning debt activity with other areas of the ATO.

We agreed in full, part or principle with 16 of the 19 recommendations made by the IGT. We disagreed with two recommendations and considered one to be a matter for government.

The Australian Taxation Office’s services and support for tax practitioners

(released 20 July 2015)

The objective of the review was to acknowledge the important role tax practitioners play in the tripartite relationship with the ATO and taxpayers; provide insights into improving the tax system; and further facilitate taxpayers’ compliance.

The IGT made eight recommendations aimed at enhancing the services and support provided to tax practitioners.

We agreed in full with two recommendations and in part with six recommendations.


Commonwealth Ombudsman

There were no own-motion investigations that were completed in relation to the ATO by the Commonwealth Ombudsman under section 5(1)(b) of the Ombudsman Act 1976.

The complete reports issued in prior years are available at