• Dispute resolution pilot

    We are committed to the timely resolution of disputes without the need for litigation. In 2012, the Inspector General of Taxation recommended that we undertake a pilot to assess the effectiveness of using in-house trained tax officers to act as facilitators to assist in resolving smaller, less complex disputes.

    In accordance with the recommendation, we conducted an alternative dispute resolution pilot on a targeted group of indirect tax objection cases.

    We took an informal approach with our in-house facilitators whose role was to assist parties to resolve the issues in dispute using open engagement and communication.

    We selected 55 cases for the pilot. Of the 37 that proceeded to facilitation, 41% were resolved in full, with many of the others reporting benefits from clarifying facts or issues, or narrowing the issues in dispute. The cases that did not proceed to facilitation were resolved by initial contact with the taxpayer, and did not need facilitation. From first contact to case finalisation, the average timeframe was 41 days. This was more timely than cases that proceed on appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

    We surveyed pilot participants to understand what impact the process had on confidence levels. Feedback indicated that the majority of surveyed participants (95%) were satisfied with the process and would use it again.

    More than half of surveyed participants (59%) agreed that their relationship with us had improved as a result of the pilot. This suggests our approach builds community confidence in us.

    The pilot was effective in highlighting the importance of early and direct communication with taxpayers, including through facilitated conferences. The pilot outcomes – from cases resolved without the need for facilitation and the results from facilitation – will continue to inform our implementation of a range of initiatives aimed at earlier dispute resolution and will form the basis for a benchmark against which we will evaluate future results.

    Last modified: 07 Mar 2016QC 37649