Pictured: ATO second commissioner Geoff Leeper, Illawarra Business Chamber president Sue Baker-Finch and chief executive Debra Murphy with Wollongong-based ATO deputy commissioner David Diment. Photo: GREG ELLIS
Members of the Illawarra business community have taken advantage of an opportunity to have a look inside the Australian Taxation Office’s new facility in Kembla Street, Wollongong.
ATO second commissioner Geoff Leeper agreed to be guest speaker at the Illawarra Business Chamber’s first executive breakfast this year.
He said the new ATO building was officially opened on Thursday. Staff began moving in last November.
Chamber chief executive Debra Murphy welcomed the way the ATO had reached out and become more proactive in its approach to the local business community.
‘‘It is good to see there is that two-way dialogue happening,’’ she said.
Mr Leeper spoke about the ATO’s relationship with small business, the changing context in which it operated, tax, and superannuation.
Mr Leeper said the opening of the new building was a 15-year commitment to the Wollongong community.
‘‘That is the length of the lease on this new building,’’ he said.
‘‘That allows us to build strong relationships with local businesses and also with the university.
‘‘We are changing and we are up for change in the way we do business in the ATO.
‘‘We do want to listen and understand your feedback.
‘‘We look forward to building a very beneficial relationship and partnership with the Wollongong community and with this business chamber.’’
Wollongong-based deputy commissioner David Diment said there had been an ATO presence in Wollongong since the 1960s.
‘‘The first office was called a typing annex which really takes you back in time,’’ he said.
‘‘But this brand new office is state-of-the-art environmentally and is a great work area.’’
Mr Diment said there were two areas of work the Wollongong office did that no other tax office in the country handled.
‘‘We are the only site that processes fringe benefit tax returns in the country. It is very much an office that punches above its weight.’’
It also registers and processes excise returns for things like fuel, tobacco and alcohol.