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Gina Lazanas (Balazs Lazanas & Welch LLP), Chair of the Tax Institute Legal & Dispute Resolution Subcommittee, participated in the NTLG Dispute Resolution Sub-committee Meeting on 13 February 2012.

One of the key topics for discussion was penalties disputes and the implications for alternative dispute resolution, in particular, the airing of concerns that penalties are used as leverage in tax disputes. There was general consensus that penalties disputes, being mostly facts based disputes, should ideally be resolved by ADR. Other interesting topics that were discussed included the recent Federal Court cases involving successful indemnity costs claims against the Commissioner, the ATO’s attitude to electronic data rooms for tax litigation and an update on the ATO’s T project (transforming tax technical decision making).

In addition, there was continued discussion about how to raise awareness of the Commissioner’s legal obligation to consider ADR, including prior to the issue of amended assessments. As to other developments, the Federal Court is holding a National Taxation User Group Forum on 18 April 2012 at 4.30pm for anyone interested in the Court’s management of matters in the tax list, and the ATO has foreshadowed that it will be issuing its Dispute Management Plan mid year.

Members interested in these topics or developments can contact us at Tax Policy for more information.

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