I wrote before about the ongoing expansion of the Standard Business Reporting (SBR) program in Australia, which includes:
- The migration of all Australian Tax Office (ATO) reporting to SBR
- The use of SBR in the Superannuation industry
- The exploration around a possible mandate to use SBR to submit financial reports to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) conducted by the Australian Treasury earlier this year.
The Australian Government 2013 – 2014 Budget released last May includes a provision for additional funding of approximately $80 million over four years for the ATO to expand SBR and some related initiatives. These initiatives include improving the Australian Business Register (ABN) and AUSkey to promote online interaction with government, encourage business uptake and limit the prospects of people improperly gaining an ABN.
Apart the direct benefit in terms of funding the expansion of the program, this represents also a longer-term positive signal on the commitment of the Australian Government to the SBR initiative.
The implications on the size and scope of the program are also significant. A key initiative supported by the new funding will be transitioning individual tax returns and other forms and schedules currently filed through the Electronic Lodgment Service (ELS) channel to the SBR channel by July 2015. In the words of John McAlister, ATO Assistant Commissioner, SBR and one of the key members of the SBR program leadership:
“About 20 million taxation and other forms are lodged through ELS each year by more than 20,000 tax professionals. However, ELS is getting old and provides an overlapping and competing lodgment service to that offered by SBR. Through SBR’s value-add features, such as pre-filling and pre-lodge, tax agents will be able to focus more on their clients’ business and less on lodgment processes. Tax professionals who experienced SBR first hand in their software have said it is their preferred channel for interacting with the ATO.”
The SBR experience in Australia is a great example of the usage of XBRL and other open standards to enable better business processes and reduce costs. The continued support granted by the Government to the program and the further ambitious goals that are now in its scope are a clear signal that SBR is on track to deliver on the expectations.