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What to do when the ATO asks for information from you or your clients


When seeking information, the Australian Taxation Office correctly prefers the informal approach, at least initially, but can and does back it up with extensive and coercive statutory powers of entry, search and examination. Those statutory powers are under constant analysis and explanation, both by the courts and in the ATO's own Access Manual. This article examines the ATO's powers and its practice, at both the informal and formal levels, and provides detailed commentary about how to respond to and deal with an approach by the ATO, including the assertion of client professional privilege, the accountants' concession, and the difficult question of offshore inquiries. The author recommends the preparation of a corporate communications strategy and a manual for dealing with ATO visits, and provides a checklist of the matters which such a manual might contain.

Author profile

David Marks CTA
David W Marks, QC, CTA is a Barrister at the Queensland Bar, with an extensive practice principally in tax, and more generally in equity and commercial matters. David was admitted as a solicitor in 1992, as a barrister in 2000, and took silk in 2015. He is an interstate member of the SA Bar Association. David contributes to tax law & policy submissions, for The Tax Institute, as a member of TTI technical committees. He is a past member of Qld’s State Council and Education Committee. In 2013, David received TTI’s Meritorious Service Award. - Current at 02 March 2017
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