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  • Appendix 8: Use of access powers

    In most circumstances, we work cooperatively with taxpayers and third parties in obtaining relevant information without having to exercise our formal powers. Our approach to information gathering guidelines on ato.gov.au contain the policies and procedures for the use of our powers.

    Use of formal information gathering notices is necessary where third parties, such as financial institutions, are required to provide private tax related information to us. They are also necessary to establish the relevant facts and evidence in audits and other investigations.

    On three occasions we needed to gather relevant information using our powers to obtain access without notice.

    During 2017–18, there were 20,996 formal notices issued to obtain relevant information and documents. These included situations where we combined notices for information and documents with notices requiring formal interviews.

    TABLE 5.25 Formal access and information-gathering powers used by the Commissioner, 2017–18

    Access

    No. of approved submissions

    With notice

    14

    Without notice

    3

    Immediate

    0

    TOTAL

    17

     

    Formal information-gathering notices

    No. of notices

    Information or document

    20,612

    Attend and give evidence

    352

    Formal offshore requests

    32

    TOTAL

    20,996

    Note:
    Care should be taken in extrapolating trends from this data. Figures include all formal notices issued, including the re-issue of a formal notice, and do not represent the number of taxpayers who have received a formal notice. Much of the increase in numbers is attributable to requests for third-party information or documents from banks where client confidentiality requires the use of formal notices.

    Use of assumed identities

    Our employees may use assumed identities to gather intelligence and evidence against individuals and criminal networks under investigation. Under the Crimes Act 1914, we are required to regularly audit records of authorisations and revocations of assumed identities.

    As at 30 June 2018, there were no authorisations for our field intelligence staff to hold assumed identities.

      Last modified: 26 Oct 2018QC 57135