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26 May 14 ATO debt collection practices - IGT review

On 26 May 2014 the Inspector-General of Taxation (IGT) announced terms of reference and submission guidelines for a review into the Australian Taxation Office’s approach to debt collection: IGT media release, 26 May 2014.

The IGT invites submissions on this topic. The closing date for submissions is 18 July 2014.

The IGT notes that uncollected tax continues to grow and reached $17.7 billion in 2012–13 with over 60% owed by small businesses. The ATO has stated that more recent increases are a result of economic conditions and its assistance to viable businesses to stay afloat. However, despite the ATO’s debt assistance programs, its approach to collecting taxes has been a persistent source of taxpayer complaint.

Some stakeholders believe that the ATO has recently taken a firmer approach to debt collection despite continuing economic pressures whilst others are of the view that the ATO allows debts to accumulate for too long before taking action. Other aspects of the ATO’s debt management, including its use of third party debt collectors, have also been questioned.

The inquiry’s terms of reference and guidelines for making submissions are available from the IGT website.

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