Tax and Technology: Automation, the Digital Economy and Single Touch Payroll



In the ever-changing world of tax and technology, we are constantly facing pressures to increase efficiencies and do things smarter. But what does this mean in a practical sense for our firms.

What are some of the current practical issues that technology is solving, and what new ones is it creating? What demands and challenges does this pose and what is the impact on our clients… now and in the future?

At the 34th National Convention in March, Robyn Jacobson, CTA, (TaxBanter) and Colin Walker, (Australian Taxation Office) look at the issues facing advisers in their session ‘Tax and Technology: Automation, the Digital Economy and Single Touch Payroll’.

We spoke to Robyn about what to expect on the day.

“The ATO is currently focussed on how technology can improve their processes, as well as the experience that tax agents have when engaging with those processes. Colin and I will aim to give delegates an understanding of how the ATO is going about this, as well as what tax practitioners can expect in the future when dealing with the ATO, including the new dashboard for tax agents, ‘ATO Online’. We will be looking at how these changes will impact our dealings with clients and the way in which we run our practices.”


“Our session will also explain the ATO’s approach to dealing with the implementation of Single Touch Payroll (STP) reporting for small employers which will commence from 1 July 2019. Micro employers in particular, those with four or fewer employees, face enormous technological and practical challenges in commencing STP reporting, and there are challenges in requiring closely held employers to report through STP because they generally don’t have a regular payroll cycle which is the premise of STP reporting.”

Robyn and Colin will look at some of the practical realities of STP and making it work in practice, including some tailored solutions for micro employers and closely held employers, before looking at automation, where they will compare what advisers have available today with what the future might look like.

Robyn said “Ultimately, the session will assist delegates in understanding how improvements in technology is changing the way that tax practitioners are, and will, interact with the ATO. It will also explain the special rules that the ATO has developed to assist small employers, micro employers and closely held employers adopt STP reporting from 1 July 2019.”

Robyn has a background in public practice, and has been a professional tax trainer for 22 years, the last eight spent with TaxBanter. A Chartered Tax Adviser with The Tax Institute, she is also a CA, FCPA, and Registered Tax Agent. She is currently a member of three of The Tax Institute’s committees; the Victorian Professional Development Committee, the Victorian Women in Tax Committee, where she serves as Co-Chair, and the Noosa Tax Intensive Organising Committee, as well as serving as the Chair of CPA Australia’s Victorian Public Practice Committee.

Robyn regularly consults with Treasury and the ATO on technical issues and has been involved in ATO consultations on Single Touch Payroll for three years.

“With all that going on, it is rare that I am not knee-deep in tax, but I enjoy getting out on the open road, taking 3,000 km road trips, driving to the Mornington Peninsula, the Dandenong Ranges and the Victorian High Country, enjoying great food/wine and shopping. I am fortunate that my professional role takes me to all corners of the country each year and that allows me to take in the sights as I go. I enjoy overseas travel when I can manage the time off, even for a quick hop out of the country” she said.

Colin Walker joined the Australian Taxation Office in 1975. Until the early nineties his primary focus was on indirect taxes particularly sales tax. After a short period with Ernst and Young as a Senior Manager consulting in Sales Tax he worked for the International Monetary Fund providing in country technical assistance in Tax and Customs Policy and Administration in many overseas developing countries. In 2002 Colin returned to the ATO and as an Assistant Commissioner he has worked on the development and implementation of significant business and individual new legislation and is currently responsible for the relationship with tax practitioners in the tax and superannuation system.

Robyn and Colin’s session is one of eight taking place in the Hot Topics stream at the Convention, which also features sessions on state taxes, the black economy, recent cases, GST and more.

Find out more about these sessions and the rest of the program on our website.

The 34th National Convention takes place 13-15 March 2019 in Hobart. Register before 1 February and save $200.


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