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Budget focus: Tax and Cybersecurity improvement

As technology and the internet continue to play a significant role in the economy and businesses, issues related to tax and cybersecurity are becoming increasingly important. 

With the Australian federal budget set to be handed down on May 9, experts are offering their perspectives on how government funding can be better utilised to address these issues.

TaxTank’s Nicole Kelly believes that redirecting funding from the Australian Taxation Office’s (ATO) “crackdowns” on taxpayers towards comprehensive tools that enable faster and more accurate tax returns and better visibility of tax positions throughout the year could benefit many Australians.

“For many Australians, the end of the financial year tax period can be daunting. Despite many having genuine efforts to lodge their tax returns with the right information, the 2020 tax season saw 9 in 10 property investors only make errors in their submissions. This is a staggering percentage and should be recognised by the government as needing immediate attention, not because 9 in 10 property investors are trying to cheat the system, but because the system clearly isn’t working,” Nicole explains.

Nicole suggests that innovators and new products across the fintech and financial services sectors are being developed to help improve data integrity, which can alleviate the pressure on taxpayers while also reducing the need for the government and ATO to repeatedly and heavily invest in ‘crackdowns’ on incorrect tax returns.

“However, it’s challenging for these innovations to get the funding and support needed to reach a critical mass. This is despite the ATO having an overall budget of $24.8 billion for expenses. In the upcoming federal budget and as we near the end of the financial year, there is a clear opportunity for the government to shift their investment focus from adding further pressure to taxpayers and instead support approaches that empower individuals to accurately and honestly take control of their taxes,” Nicole suggests.

Nicole believes that the $111M provided to the ATO in 2021 and the additional $80M in 2022 could be put to better use in helping everyday Australians take control of their finances.

Prashant Haldankar, Chief Information Security Officer at Sekuro, emphasizes the importance of government and businesses preparing for the ongoing evolution of artificial intelligence (AI) without fear mongering.

“Cyber Security Minister Clare O’Neil recently announced the need for a series of exercises for organizations with critical infrastructure to prepare for integrity attacks, and this is an important step forward for some of our largest and most complex organizations to build resilience in this increasingly complex cybersecurity landscape. With the ongoing evolution of AI, businesses need to recognize that the impact this technology has on cyber risk is multi-faceted, and the damage caused by one attack could rapidly expand in mere minutes,” Prashant explains.

Prashant emphasizes that bad actors targeting data collection and indexing as it goes into an AI model would be capable of adding bias to a system that could control critical infrastructure, make military decisions, or provide financial advice that could be unfair or skewed towards the interests of the bad actors. Depending on the motivations of the bad actors, there could be impacts on the economy or even the trust between citizens and governments.

“Most importantly, as well as being aware of and prepared for this range of threats, governments and businesses need to be empowered to be able to take action. Fear cannot stifle businesses into believing they have no control over cybersecurity threats.

“Ahead of the federal budget, it will be important for the government to consider how these exercises will not only give the relevant businesses greater understanding and control over how to build business resilience but also how all businesses across Australia – regardless of industry, size, or structure – can take tangible actions today to prevent and mitigate the impacts of ongoing attacks,” Prashant suggests.

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Yajush Gupta

Yajush Gupta

Yajush is a journalist at Dynamic Business. He previously worked with Reuters as a business correspondent and holds a postgrad degree in print journalism.

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