• For more information

    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'.

    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 ATO. 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.

    Model litigant

    • 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 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 most appeals from decisions of the AAT.
    • The Full Federal Court hears appeals from decisions of single judges of the Federal Court, from the Federal Magistrates Court, and some appeals from AAT decisions - for example, where at least one 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 one 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, 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 - as a result, this 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.



    Please email your comments to yourcasematters@ato.gov.au

    End of attention


    Australian Taxation Office


    September 2012

    JS 25216


    You are free to copy, adapt, modify, transmit and distribute this material as you wish (but not in any way that suggests the ATO or the Commonwealth endorses you or any of your services or products).

    NAT 74348-09.2012

    1 These statistics do not include other litigation by the ATO, in particular debt litigation which involves a significant number of cases.

    2 The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) or the Small Taxation Claims Tribunal (STCT).

    3 This is a snapshot of activity during 2011-12. Some of the activity will relate to previous years, but it gives a good idea of the relative scale of activities.

    4 Outlined in A Strategic Framework for Access to Justice in the Federal Civil Justice System

    5 http://assistant.treasurer.gov.au/DisplayDocs.aspx?doc=pressreleases/2012/081.htm&pageID=003&min=djba&Year=&DocType=0

    6 http://www.igt.gov.au/content/reports/ATO_alternative_dispute_resolution/ADR_Report_Consolidated.pdf note comment on page 5

    7 The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) or the Small Taxation Claims Tribunal (STCT)

    8 Note this includes 5 SLAs prior to 1 July 2008 but are included because they had substantive High Court decisions from 1 July 2008 onwards.

      Last modified: 15 Feb 2013QC 26462