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The Administrative Appeals Tribunal has affirmed the Commissioner’s decision not to release a taxpayer from his taxation liabilities on the ground of serious hardship.

The taxpayer had a total taxation debt of over $80,000, consisting of income tax, penalties and interest charges. He contended that his tax debts arose as a result of his unauthorised early access of superannuation benefits in order to support his gambling addiction. He sought release from his tax liability either in whole or in part on the basis that he would suffer serious hardship if he were required to pay the outstanding balance.

The Commissioner contended that the taxpayer had preferred other creditors to his tax liability and had made only a very small contribution in reduction of his tax debt; despite his position as a former employee of the ATO, he had prepared tax returns for others when he was not authorised to do so; he had been non-compliant with the tax legislation by failing to lodge returns for his superannuation fund in a timely manner; and he had made unauthorised access to his superannuation fund.

The Tribunal noted that the taxpayer earned a substantial income, and that there were assets which he could dispose of to reduce his tax debt. In all the circumstances, there was no warrant to release the taxpayer on the ground of serious hardship, nor to exercise the discretion to release him in whole or in part from his taxation debt.

Re Huckle and FCT [2014] AATA 362 (A F Cunningham SM, 6 June 2014).

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