Alternative dispute resolution
- The Australian Government outlined its position in encouraging ADR in A Strategic Framework for Access to Justice in the Federal Civil Justice System, the Full Report of the Access to Justice Taskforce, Australian Government, Attorney-General's Department, September 2009.
- More information can be found on the Attorney-General Department's website at www.ag.gov.au
ATO's test case litigation program
- For information on the program and how to apply, visit www.ato.gov.au and search for 'Test case litigation program'.
- More information is available in the Commissioner of Taxation Annual report 2010-11, pages 108, 177-181.
ATO's Code of settlement practice
- For information on the code, visit www.ato.gov.au and search for 'Code of settlement practice'.
- The ATO has 2 Law Administration Practice Statements (LAPS) regarding settlements:
- Law Administration Practice Statement PS LA 2007/5 Settlements
- Law Administration Practice Statement PS LA 2007/6 Guidelines for settlement of widely-based tax disputes.
- LAPS are instructions to tax officers which provide direction and assistance on the approaches to be taken in performing duties involving the application of the laws administered by the Commissioner of Taxation. Although LAPS are written principally for tax officers, in the interests of open tax administration, they are available to the public via the ATO Legal Database on www.ato.gov.au
- Settlements statistics can be found in the Commissioner of Taxation Annual report 2010-11, pages 105-106.
- The Dispute resolution sub-committee of the National Tax Liaison Group charter, membership list and minutes are also available on www.ato.gov.au
- The Legal Services Directions 2005 issued by the Attorney-General apply to 'Commonwealth legal work'. The ATO operates under these Directions which require us to be a model litigant.
- The directions are available on the Attorney-General Department's website at www.ag.gov.au
- More information is available in Commissioner of Taxation Annual report 2010-11, page 107.
Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT)
- The AAT reviews a wide range of administrative decisions made by the ATO and other government agencies. The AAT aims to provide independent review with as little formality and technicality as possible.
- The AAT includes the Small Taxation Claims Tribunal, which provides quick and inexpensive reviews of some decisions made by the ATO.
- For more information refer to the AAT website at www.aat.gov.au
Federal Court of Australia
- Single judges of the Federal Court hear taxpayer appeals and also most appeals from decisions of the AAT.
- The Full Federal Court hears appeals from decisions of single judges of the Federal Court, and from the Federal Magistrates Court and also some appeals from AAT decisions (for example, where at least 1 of the members of the AAT that gave the decision was a judge).
- For more information refer to the Federal Court of Australia website at www.fedcourt.gov.au
High Court of Australia
- The High Court is the highest court in Australia's court system and the final court of appeal including for tax and superannuation litigation. It decides cases of special federal significance including constitutional challenges.
- To appeal a court decision to the High Court, applicants must apply for special leave to appeal which is heard by 1 or more justices of the court.
- Special leave is granted only where the High Court decides a question of law is raised which is of public importance, is in the interests of justice, or it involves conflicts between courts.
- For more information, refer to the High Court website www.hcourt.gov.au
The data included in this document covers litigation associated with disputed assessments only. It specifically excludes data associated with debt recovery, freedom of information and administrative law disputes.
This data has been drawn from the ATO's legacy systems pending migration to the new Siebel system in July 2012. The accuracy of this data is therefore reliant on the accuracy of initial allocation of cases to categories, post-closure manual categorisation of some cases, and re-categorisation of cases identified as outliers.
This data is reported in the standard ATO method where one appeal lodged is maintained throughout the process as one case. This therefore does not reflect the multiple individual matters that one case may contain. Other entities may count individual matters as separate cases, and therefore cannot be directly compared with the ATO method of counting.
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1 See A Strategic Framework for Access to Justice in the Federal Civil Justice System, the Full Report of the Access to Justice Taskforce, Australian Government, Attorney-General's Department, September 2009.
2 This is a snapshot of activity during 2010-11. Some of the activity will relate to previous years but it gives a good idea of the relative scale of activities.
3 These statistics do not include other litigation by the ATO, in particular debt litigation which involves a significant number of cases. Commissioner of Taxation Annual report 2010-11, pp 107-108.
4 Outlined in A Strategic Framework for Access to Justice in the Federal Civil Justice System, see footnote 1.
5 Under the Legal Services Directions, Australian Government, Attorney-General's Department, 2005.
6 The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) or the Small Taxation Claims Tribunal.
7 Section 35, Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act, 1975 allows the tribunal, in some circumstances, to keep confidential the name or address of a party or witness, or other information that it holds. It can also order that a hearing be in private, or that a written decision not be made public.