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  • Final legal professional privilege protocol and compendium released

    The ATO strongly supports legal professional privilege (LPP) and encourages taxpayers to obtain professional tax advice, including high-quality legal advice.

    When we undertake investigations, we seek to ensure we’re provided with information to which we’re legally entitled. We can’t compel the provision of information that is properly subject to LPP.

    When we issue a formal notice, we need sufficient information so we can decide whether to accept, review or challenge a claim of LPP.

    We’ve seen instances where LPP has been inappropriately asserted in an attempt to withhold information. This hinders our investigative functions and can result in extended disputes about information gathering, instead of focusing on resolution of the issue.

    After extensive consultation with key stakeholders, we have released the final LPP protocol which will help you when making LPP claims in response to a formal information gathering notice. All of this feedback has been carefully considered, and much is reflected in the updated final protocol. Our response to this feedback is documented in the compendium.

    The protocol outlines:

    • a recommended approach for assessing whether LPP applies
    • what we recommend you provide to us
    • what to expect from us when you make a claim.

    The protocol is relevant to taxpayers claiming LPP when responding to formal notices. This will typically be large businesses that have received a notice as part of a dispute or audit activity. The vast bulk of our engagements in the large market are done without using formal information gathering powers.

    The protocol covers all LPP claims, whether made by legal or non-legal practitioners regardless of the firm or business structure.

    It is voluntary to follow the protocol, but following it should help us to decide quickly how to treat your claim. If you choose not to follow the protocol, we recommend you explain to us where you have not done so and why. If you do not provide this information and we do not have sufficient information to make a decision on a claim, we are likely to make further enquiries.

    See also  

    Last modified: 22 Jun 2022QC 69919