The Taxation Institute of Australia (TIA) and Solution 6 have developed an information portal for tax practitioners to keep up to date with the huge amount of legislation being passed in the Federal Government's expansive tax reform.
The site, www.taxinstitute.com.au, gives tax practitioners access to the TIA's analysis of taxation issues, as well as video-streaming seminars that are available for download on a pay-per-view basis. The site was officially opened by Parliamentary Secretary Senator Ian Campbell, who confidently expressed that the site was another example of Australian business squashing any talk of Australia being an "old economy".
President of the TIA Ray Conwell said that the site would assist taxation practitioners in dealing with the enormous amount of legislation involved with the biggest reform of Australia's taxation system in history. In principle, the site should allow practitioners to spend more time with clients rather than leafing through masses of information.
"Taxation practitioners are overwhelmed by this mass of legislation", said Conwell. "This site will help them analyse, direct, interpret and implement these changes."
The site was developed by Solution 6 following the TIA's lengthy review of what technological partners would be most appropriate. According to TIA CEO Noel Rowland, Solution 6 was chosen because of its extensive experience in developing portals and specialty in its development of accounting software. It took Solution 6 less than four months to complete the project, from conception through to implementation.
The financial terms of the project were described by Rowland and Solution 6 CEO Neil Gamble as "a risk and reward share arrangement between the TIA and Solution 6". Any of the revenues gained from the site would be shared between the two parties, but neither would comment on the exact split of revenue.
Much of this revenue will come from the site's online professional development services, delivered via video streaming. Certified tax practitioners are required to undertake 30 hours of professional development every year to maintain accreditation, and the site aims to cater for this need with pay-per-view tutorials.
Access to the site is not restricted to members of the institute. The professional development service is available for purchase via download at $120 per 30-minute video. There are also various seminar and journal papers available for $50 each. In addition, members of the institute are able to access some services, such as access to the institute's journal, as part of their membership fee.
"In some instances, watching a presentation on video is a little more expensive than attending a conference in person," Rowland said. "This is because it cost us a considerable amount of investment to build these features and users have the advantage of accessing it whenever and wherever they want without having to travel - it is an enormous time saver."
The site is touted as being especially suited to those practitioners in regional and rural areas of Australia who are unable to attend conferences on taxation issues in person.
"From Leichardt to Lillyfield to Longreach, you get the same access," Conwell said.
Rowland did admit however, that the idea of paying for streamed content on a 56Kbps modem, the typical connection for regional areas, might have its limitations.
"A standard modem and phone line will allow you to access all parts of the site," he said. "The speed of download isn't as fast with a 56Kbps modem, but the video only has little stops and the audio is fine."
An additional agreement between Quadtel, Solution 6 and the TIA will offer TIA members discount access to ADSL services in Australian cities.