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  • Appendix 1: Public advice and dispute management

    The following tables show statistics around how the ATO assists people to understand their tax and superannuation obligations, and how we work with people who disagree with our assessments. More details on public advice and dispute management are in the annual performance statement under strategic objective C1.

    Public advice

    TABLE 5.1 Key public advice and guidance products, 2015–16 to 2017–18

    Product

    2015–16

    2016–17

    2017–18

    Total public rulings (including law companion rulings)(a)

    69

    73

    64

    Practical Compliance Guidelines

    9

    20

    13

    Taxpayer Alerts

    9

    11

    1

    Law Administration Practice Statements

    5

    2

    2

    Decision Impact Statements

    22

    11

    10

    SMSF Regulator’s Bulletin

    na

    na

    1

    Fact sheets

    na

    na

    11

    Note:
    (a) Excludes class and product rulings.
    TABLE 5.2 Timeliness of draft public rulings finalised, 2017–18

    Product

    Number

    Timeliness(a)

    0–6 months

    7–12 months

    12+ months

    Taxation rulings and determinations(b)

    17

    10

    4

    3

    Law companion rulings

    7

    4

    2

    1

    Annual rulings

    13

    All annual rulings were published within tax time requirements

    All annual rulings were published within tax time requirements

    All annual rulings were published within tax time requirements

    Notes:
    (a) Timeliness refers to the time taken to finalise following the end of the public consultation period.
    (b) Excludes class and product rulings.

    Dispute management

    TABLE 5.3 Past disputes, 2015–16 to 2017–18

    Cases

    2015–16

    2016–17

    2017–18

    Returns lodged

    34,561,234

    35,540,854

    36,572,123

    Adjustments arising from audits

    338,000

    253,000

    361,107

    Number of disputed cases resolved: objections(a)(b)

    26,690

    24,490

    24,350

    Number of disputed cases resolved: settlements

    1,350

    648

    673

    Number of disputed cases resolved: litigations

    481

    456

    478

    Number of disputed cases resolved: independent reviews

    8

    12

    16

    Average age of disputes

    94 days

    65 days

    65 days

    Proportion of objections that result in litigation(c)

    15.8 per thousand

    15.1 per thousand

    15.8 per thousand

    Cases lodged to courts/tribunals

    481

    456

    478

    Cases proceeded to decision

    151

    141

    102

    Notes:
    (a) Objection figures are cases completed.
    (b) The consistent flow of objections is partly attributable to a continuing increase in taxpayers objecting to their own self-assessments rather than objecting to adjustments from ATO audit activity.
    (c) Previously reported as proportion of disputes resulting in litigations.
    TABLE 5.4 Settlement cases reviewed by our Independent Assurance of Settlements program during 2017–18

    Financial year settlement occurred(a)

    Settlement cases

    ATO position
    $m

    Settled position
    $m

    Variance
    $m

    Variance
    %

    2016–17

    5

    2,504.8

    2,245.7

    259.1

    10%

    2017–18

    7

    2,414.5

    1,768.2

    646.3

    27%

    TOTAL(b)

    12

    4,919.3

    4,013.9

    905.4

    18%

    Notes:
    (a) Totals may differ from the sum of components due to rounding.
    (b) Independent assurers review settlements meeting the criteria only after they have been finalised. As a result, settlements finalised in the second half of any financial year will likely be reviewed by an independent assurer in the following financial year.
    TABLE 5.5 Stage at which settlement occurred, 2017–18

    Stage

    Settlement cases

    % of total settlements

    ATO position
    $m

    Settled position
    $m

    Variance
    $m

    Variance
    %

    Pre-audit

    287

    43%

    233.8

    185.4

    48.4

    21%

    Audit

    273

    41%

    2,627.2

    1,906.1

    721.1

    27%

    Objection

    89

    13%

    412.5

    200.4

    212.1

    51%

    AAT

    12

    2%

    9.1

    3.7

    5.3

    59%

    Federal Court

    12

    2%

    93.7

    20.1

    73.5

    78%

    High Court

    0

    0%

    0.0

    0.0

    0.0

    0%

    TOTAL

    673

    100%

    3,376.3

    2,315.9

    1,060.5

    31%

    Note:
    Totals may differ from the sum of components due to rounding.
    TABLE 5.6 Settlements by client group, 2017–18(a)

    Client group

    Settlement cases

    % of total settlements

    ATO position
    $m

    Settled position
    $m

    Variance
    $m

    Variance
    %

    Individuals(b)

    59

    9

    17.6

    6.2

    11.4

    65

    Small business

    173

    26

    60.6

    30.0

    30.7

    51

    Privately owned and wealthy groups

    287

    43

    454.6

    180.6

    274.0

    60

    Public and multinational businesses

    95

    14

    2,800.7

    2,071.1

    729.6

    26

    Not-for-profit organisations(c)

    0

    0

    0.0

    0.0

    0.0

    0

    Super funds

    59

    9

    42.9

    28.0

    14.8

    35

    TOTAL

    673

    100

    3,376.3

    2,315.9

    1,060.5

    31

    Notes:
    (a) Totals may differ from the sum of components due to rounding.
    (b) The client group Individuals does not include those who are in business, for example sole traders.
    (c) The client group Not-for-profit organisations includes government entities.
      Last modified: 26 Oct 2018QC 57110