In a media release issued on 11 August 2009, the Assistant Treasurer, Senator Nick Sherry, announced the release of the Inspector-General of Taxation's (IGOT) report of his Review into the Underlying Causes and the Management of Objections to ATO Decisions.
The Review sought to identify changes that would improve the efficiency, effectiveness and fairness of the objections process as part of the IGOT's wider examination of the ATO's approach to settling and finalising issues with taxpayers.
"The report makes 12 key recommendations on the handling of taxpayer objections to ATO assessments...In the one recommendation related to legislation, the Inspector-General suggests the Government considers certain improvements to the legislative framework for amendments and objections to tax assessments. I have today asked the Treasury to closely examine the issues raised and provide me with further advice," the Assistant Treasurer said.
Of the 12 recommendations, the ATO disagrees with one of them (Recommendation 5), agrees in part with another of them, and agrees "in principle" with a third. It agrees with the remaining 9 recommendations.
Recommendation 5 is as follows:
"The Commissioner should remit the general interest charge for the time taken by the ATO to finalise an objection beyond a 60-day 'available to the ATO' period where the taxpayer has acted in good faith."
Key findings in the report include that the ATO should:
- issue a comprehensive public statement setting out its philosophy on objections, including their management and handling;
- continue to develop a culture that recognises and respects the role of objections;
- continue to encourage early dispute resolution and where taxpayers are self- represented, advice should be in plain language; and
- review its current audit work practices and training programs for original decision-makers to ensure they align with the general published philosophy on dispute resolution.
For a copy of the Minister's media release, No 2009/028, 11 August 2009, go here
For a copy of the IGOT's report, "Review into the underlying causes and the management of objections to ATO decisions", 15 April 2009, go here