Around 3 weeks ago I lodged my first tax return and surprisingly this week when I checked my bank account, the ATO had already transferred my tax refund. It doesn’t take a long time, does it? interestingly, I don’t need to come to the tax office and attach many documents as I thought before. It just go to the ATO website and download a particular program, e-tax, and follow the instructions there until finish and then submit, that’s all. In order to complete filling up the form, obviously we don’t need deeply tax knowledge since the questions and forms to fill up created in a simple way. Just answer the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions, and input some data required for ‘yes questions’. Based on that of my experience has triggered me to just share my point of view regarding the Australian Tax System in particular processing the claim of tax refund with little bit compared to that of Indonesia.
I have been registered as Australian Resident for tax purpose since February 2009 at the same time when I got Tax File Number. My status here is a personal taxpayer. Personal taxpayer has the significant role in terms of contributing toward total tax revenue. It is common for develop countries. Not surprisingly, the highest contribution is from personal income tax, which is made up of gross income tax withholding, gross other individuals’ income tax and individuals’ refunds, accounts for 45.8 per cent of total taxation revenue. Whereas company income tax accounts for only 21.2 per cent of total taxation revenue. It is different to Indonesia in which the highest contribution is still from company income tax. It should be the big job for DGT to increase the tax ratio so that in the future the personal taxpayers have the significant role in contributing tax revenue.
Financial year in Australia is from I July to 30 June, so then in June, if we work we should accept a PAYG (Pay As You Go) payment summary from our employer. In Indonesia, it may be the same as 1721 A2. It contains some information dealing with our identities, gross payment, total tax withheld, etc. Here it is the example of PAYG payment summary.
Based on the data from PAYG payment summary, we can directly go to start to answer and fill up the forms in the e-tax. At the beginning we are just required to fill up the verification form in which contains of proof of identity, such as name, TFN and date of birth. The, we go to the shared secret information in which we need to declare our bank account. Shared secret information basically is the data and payment history of each taxpayer. Due to it was the first time I lodged the tax return so then there was no information available. When I rang the Australian Account Representative, it was explained that in the next year it will be available of my data. Providing that it utilizes an integrated system so the data from the employers can be traced. I don’t know exactly whether the ATO has the access toward taxpayer’s bank account or not but seemingly, it may have the access since when we open the bank account we are also requested to fill up the TFN. From the statement in the e-tax, it also shows that the ATO can access the taxpayer’s bank account.
Basically, the structure of Australian tax return may have no significant differences to Indonesian’s. It contains the information of income, deduction, tax offset, etc. However, the way those forms presented may be quite different. Here, it seems no complicated forms compared to Indonesia’s. For instance, in terms of filling up the number of income, we are guided to answer the ‘yes or no’ questions, such as, did you receive payment of salary etc from which tax was withheld or any lump sum payment from employer for unused annual leave? Y/N, Did you receive any income whether or not shown on PAYG payment summary? Y/N. In deduction section, the type of questions is the same, Yes or No questions, such as did you have any car expense, travel, uniform (specific clothing), self education expense, relating to your work as an employee? Y/N. It is quite simple, right?? If we want to claim the tax refund, we need to state the bank account in order to the ATO to transfer. A final assessment of the income tax liabilities of individual taxpayers is normally made on the basis of returns lodged after the end of each financial year. Refunds from the ATO are made where tax credits to an individual exceed their final liability on assessment. Again, there are no need physical documents required, except for some circumstances. So then, why the ATO dare to apply this system? Is it not afraid of such kind of frauds?? The answer may be they have already developed a strong system where all elements of government office and business entity become an integrated system to encourage this system implemented correctly. The second one, it may be back again to the culture, it means the national and society culture to support this system.
How about Indonesia?? I think Indonesia now has a significant advance in developing tax system. In my opinion, the weakness is no enough strong political will from the president and parliament to support. How come the DGT has a self confidence to copy the system from the develop countries whilst to get some information from other government ministry need a long time even no reply at all. How come the DGT is able to intensify the potential tax revenue whilst to access the bank account need a lot procedures and bureaucracy?. The DGT also has utilized information technology to support its performance. However, still it needs physical documents to be submitted. Again, there is lack of trust since it is in the process of transforming to the new system. Hopefully, it will not take a long time to come up with the truly new system so that taxpayers satisfy with the DGT performance. It is enjoy applying the TFN at home, right? It is enjoy claiming the tax refund at home and then check the bank account it has been transferred, right?