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The Administrative Appeals Tribunal has granted a taxpayer an extension of time to lodge an application for review of the Commissioner’s objection decision, even though the application for review was lodged 13 months out of time.

The taxpayer claimed that the Commissioner’s assessments of his income and tax payable for the 2001, 2002 and 2003 tax years were grossly overstated, despite the fact that the assessments were made in accordance with his returns as lodged. It was alleged that the taxpayer’s then tax agent had wilfully falsified the returns in order to generate large tax refunds which the tax agent intercepted and applied for his own purposes. It appeared that the tax agent had used this modus operandi in relation to the tax returns of a very large number of his clients. He was prosecuted, convicted of various offences and sentenced to several years in prison.

The taxpayer was able to provide an acceptable explanation for the delay, and was able to demonstrate that there would be no prejudice to the Commissioner if an extension of time were granted. Further, the evidence disclosed that the taxpayer had an arguable case on the merits.

In the circumstances, the Tribunal decided that the justice of the case required that the extension of time be granted.

Re Griffith and FCT [2011] AATA 400 (Senior Member S E Frost, 10 June 2011).