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On  7 November 2014, Joanne Dunne CTA (Minter Ellison) attended a consultation with the Dispute Resolution Working Group in relation to the ATO’s dispute management procedures. In summary:

  • The ATO gave an overview of recent improvements to ATO dispute management including: bringing to the frontline legal technical support to compliance and audit teams; in-house facilitation; plain English guide to ADR; increased use of ADR;  revamping test case program; and the new code of settlement. 
  • ATO is involved in direct consultation with practitioners on the impact of the new code of settlement and asked for any feedback on the new code from practitioners.
  • ATO outlined the feedback recently provided to the Inspector-General of Taxation and House of Representatives Committee on Tax and Revenue in their reviews regarding ATO dispute management.  Those inquiries are due to report to government in 2015. 
  • Suggestions were made at the consultation to improve dispute management in relation to small business and individuals. Suggestions included considering  a short form objection form, a form that simply highlighted that the taxpayer would be objecting, further considering the payments process, redesigning relevant ATO publications, agreeing facts and issues early with taxpayers and a process for engagement with small business and individual taxpayers that does not commence with a section 264 notice.
  • The separate Appeals area that may be recommended as part of the recent reviews was discussed. 
  • The ATO is also going to draft a working draft charter for dispute management, setting out what taxpayers can expect from the ATO, and vice-versa. That document will be subject to amendment prior to finalisation as a result of the recent reviews and will be subject to consultation later this year.

Members seeking further information in relation to this consultation should contact us at Tax Policy.