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  • If our information is incorrect or misleading

    If you follow our information and it turns out to be incorrect, or it is misleading and you make a mistake as a result, you are entitled to certain levels of protection under the law.

    The level of protection you get from us making an adjustment to increase your liability or decrease your entitlement, or from being charged interest or having to pay a penalty, varies depending on the:

    • type of information you rely on
    • law it covers
    • reason for the mistake.

    In some cases, time limits set by law will not allow us to make any adjustments.

    If a ruling is incorrect or misleading

    Rulings provide you with the greatest certainty because we are legally bound to apply the law as set out in the ruling.

    If a ruling applies to your circumstances and you follow the advice it contains, we are legally bound by it. This means that if advice in a ruling is incorrect, that is, it does not correctly set out how the law applies, we will not increase your liability or decrease your entitlement.

    However, if we are satisfied that the ruling is incorrect and disadvantages you, we may apply the law in a way that is more favourable to you, provided any time limits set by law allow us to.

    If you are misled by advice in a ruling and you make a mistake as a result, we must still apply the law correctly. That may mean that we increase your liability or decrease your entitlement, provided any time limits set by law allow us to. However, we will not charge you a penalty or interest if you acted reasonably and in good faith.

    If a publicly issued ruling (not legally binding) is incorrect or misleading

    We will stand by what is said in publicly issued rulings and depart from them only if there are good and substantial reasons − for example, a legislative change since the publicly issued ruling was published.

    If a publicly issued ruling is incorrect, we take that into account when determining what action, if any, we should take.

    If you are misled by advice in a publicly issued ruling and you make a mistake as a result, we must still apply the law correctly. That may mean that we increase your liability or decrease your entitlement, provided any time limits set by law allow us to.

    If our administratively binding advice is incorrect or misleading

    Administratively binding advice is not legally binding on us. This means that if the advice we give you does not correctly state how the law applies to your circumstances, we may still have to apply the law correctly.

    However, we will stand by the advice we gave unless there is a significant reason for us to depart from it - such as a change in the legislation or a court case that affects our interpretation of the law.

    If we depart from the advice we gave, it will normally be from the date we tell you that our view has changed. But where the legislation has changed, it will be from the date the new legislation comes into effect.

    This means that in most cases we will not increase your liability or decrease your entitlement if our advice turns out to be incorrect.

    If you are misled by administratively binding advice and you make a mistake as a result, we must still apply the law correctly. That may mean that we increase your liability or decrease your entitlement, provided any time limits set by law allow us to.

    If our general information is incorrect or misleading

    Although we are not legally bound by our general information, we make every effort to ensure that it is correct.

    If you follow our general information and it turns out to be incorrect, or it is misleading and you make a mistake as a result, we must still apply the law correctly. However, we will take the fact that you followed our information into account in deciding what action, if any, we should take.

    For some taxes this means that we will increase your liability or decrease your entitlement, provided any time limits set by law allow us to do so, but we will not charge you a penalty. In most cases we will not charge you interest if you acted reasonably and in good faith.

    In some very limited situations, however, the law requires us to charge interest. For example, if you as an employer follow on our information on superannuation guarantee and it turns out to be incorrect, we must ask you to pay the nominal interest component of the superannuation guarantee shortfall.

    If correcting the situation means we owe you money, we will pay it to you. We will also pay you any interest you are entitled to. As there may be time limits imposed by law, you should contact us as soon as possible if you believe that we owe you money.

    If our SMSF information is incorrect or misleading

    SMSF advice (rulings and specific advice) and SMSF guidance are not legally binding on us. A trustee or other entity that relies on SMSF advice or guidance which is incorrect or misleading will remain responsible for their actions under the SIS Act and SIS Regulations.

    However, we will take into account the fact that a trustee acted in accordance with our advice or guidance when deciding what action, if any, we should take in response to a breach of the law.

      Last modified: 05 Jan 2016QC 18607