Taxpayers were grinning from ear to ear after the Assistant Treasurer Chris Bowen yesterday announced that the Government will retain the office of the Inspector‑General of Taxation (IGOT) as a separate independent statutory office. Prior to the election Labor were threatening to get rid of the tax office watchdog role but pressure from the legal and accounting professions convinced the government to keep David Voss AM in the government kennel.

Media reports today suggested the most telling statistic which convinced labor to keep the IGOT was that the ATO had implemented 62 of 65 recommendations made by Mr Voss. However in the IGOT 2007 annual report Mr Voss said the ATO had taken up 78 of 89 recommendations — as this table shows:

David Voss has done a good job for Australian taxpayers. There have been accusations that Peter Costello once tried to knobble him and that Tax Commissioner Michael D’Ascenzo sought legal advice on the extent of his powers, such was his tenacity in getting a better deal for taxpayers. The government spends around $2.2m a year on funding the IGOT. On the payroll are Voss, a deputy IGOT, 3 senior advisors, 1 advisor and an executive assistant.

With increased tax powers given to Mr D’Ascenzo, failed ATO service standards and inexperienced auditors running amok in the corridors of the tax office I believe the funding for the IGOT should be tripled. Now that Labor have guaranteed Voss’s position for the next few years I have a feeling that he is going to be let off his leash and some stakeholders will inevitably feel his teeth marks on their bums. Watch this space.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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