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26 Feb 08 Report on potential revenue bias in PBRs involving large complex matters

In a media release issued on 25 February 2008, the Assistant Treasurer, Chris Bowen, announced the release of the Inspector-General of Taxation’s report on the Review of the potential revenue bias in private binding rulings involving large complex matters. The review looked at whether there is a "pro-revenue" bias evident in private binding rulings (PBRs) issued by the ATO.

The Minister said that the IGOT found no evidence of undue revenue bias in PBRs. However, he did find that the perceptions of undue revenue bias by the ATO are widespread. In para 2.3 of the report, the following statement is made:

"No submissions to the review brought forward examples of undue revenue bias. Examples that stakeholders reasonably considered to show undue bias were, on examination, the product of interpretations that best promoted the 'policy intent' of the law, as the Tax Office understands it."

The IGOT recommended that the ATO should act to reduce the widespread perceptions of revenue bias among large business PBR applicants by:

- increasing transparency, improving communication and more clearly demonstrating objectivity;
- clarifying and adhering to the processes and protocols that govern inter-agency interactions; and
- further reducing delays in large business PBR processes.

The ATO has agreed fully with 7 of the 10 recommendations in the report and has partly agreed with the rest.

For a copy of the Minister's media release, No 2008/012, 25 February 2008, go here

For a copy of the IGOT's report, go here

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