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  • Resolving disputes

    In 2018–19, 643 GST-related objection cases were created and 591 finalised, with:

    • 165 (27.9%) allowed in full
    • 108 (18.3%) allowed in part
    • 121 (20.5%) disallowed
    • 197 (33.3%) either withdrawn following initial contact, or invalid and unable to be altered to be treated as valid objections.

    The number of GST objections lodged with the ATO continued to decline from prior years. Clients in the property, building and construction industry and black (formerly cash) economy were again a significant driver of objections. We continue to receive objections challenging our interpretation of the law that are not the result of an audit adjustment – that is, self-objections.

    In 2018–19, we continued to receive objections in the precious metals industry. While the law has been changed and the number of objections received was lower than in previous years, a number of objections for prior years remain outstanding, and several others are in litigation or have been determined in favour of the Commissioner. We expect that we will continue to receive objections relating to the precious metals industry as audit cases are finalised.

    We continued to support alternative dispute resolution in 2018–19. Examples include:

    • Dispute Assist – provides support and advice for unrepresented small businesses in the dispute process.
    • In-House Facilitation (IHF) – introduced in April 2004, IHF seeks to resolve a dispute where possible at the audit stage. We estimate that successful early dispute resolution can result in combined savings to the ATO and the client of around $50,000.
    • Small Business Independent Review – a pilot program that began on 1 July 2018. Eligible small businesses are offered an independent review of their audit case before the assessment or amended assessment is issued. The pilot covered a small number of GST matters.

    These initiatives have helped to significantly improve the:

    • client experience
    • perceptions of fairness in disputes with the ATO
    • quality of objections.

    At the same time, we have continued to focus on preventing disputes and adopting early intervention alternatives, including settlements.

    Figure 15: GST related objection cases created, 2016-2019

    The graph shows the number of objection cases created each year.  2015–16 1,031, 2016–17 1,036, 2017–18 906, 2018–19 643. The number of objections has declined over the last four years due to continuing improvements in our early engagement strategies.

    See also:

      Last modified: 01 Jul 2020QC 61031