• Internal review of ATO release decisions

    This report provides an internal review of 270 randomly selected cases from 1,195 release decisions made during the December quarter of 2016. With a sample size of 90 required to achieve a confidence level of 95%, the number of cases reviewed makes the sample statistically valid.

    The objective of this review was to determine whether the ATO:

    • followed its procedures, policies and guidelines
    • kept the taxpayer informed of the status of their application when making decisions about debt recovery – especially if the taxpayer has requested a release from their tax debt.

    The review involved an internal assessment of the quality and correctness of the end-to-end release process against the established national ATO Service Delivery (SD) Quality Framework (QF).

    The samples are assessed against the originating inbound correspondence activity containing the application for release. This activity identifies that all aspects involved in actioning the case and enables all related undertakings to be assessed as part of this review resulting in a product-based approach.

    The review found that:

    • In 265 of the 270 cases reviewed, the decision to grant, partially grant or refuse release of a tax debt were correct and made in accordance with the content and general direction of the ATO’s Practice Statement Law Administration 2011/17 Debt Relief (PS LA 2011/17).
    • The business-as-usual processes introduced a SMS strategy in February 2016 which advised taxpayers of processing delays where their release application exceeded service standards (56 days).
      • This channel matches contemporary communication practices and is considered an appropriate medium to successfully manage the obligation of keeping the taxpayers informed of the progress of their application.
    • In addition to the current practice of sending an SMS to clients regarding processing delays, two further taxpayer contact-based strategies started in October 2016.
      • The first strategy involved contacting taxpayers by phone to advise them of the status of their application.
      • The second strategy also involved contact by phone to advise taxpayers of the status of their application and supported a discussion regarding negotiations for lodgment and the implementation of alternate solutions where release was not an option.
      Last modified: 12 Oct 2017QC 53506