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  • Making sure we get it right

    The diversity of privately owned and wealthy groups means a wide range of tax issues come to our attention. Although our officers have a sound understanding of the applicable law, they are able to get assistance from internal advisers and legal specialists.

    We give our officers access to technical experts within our business units to ensure cases are progressed effectively. They may also seek further legal support from our Tax Counsel Network where there are concerns about the accuracy of existing positions. Our ATO experts may be involved in discussions with you and your tax advisers.

    At times we may also seek expert advice from external industry specialists or external legal service providers. We consider engaging external counsel as early as possible in situations where the matter is clearly significant or there is uncertainty regarding our view of the law.

    To make sure we get it right, we use:

    Technical and case leaders

    Technical leaders have specialised tax technical skills, enabling them to assist other case officers with risk identification and complex matters. To deal with more complex, novel and sensitive cases, we may appoint senior tax officers as specialist case leaders. These officers are usually part of the ATO’s senior executive service.

    Case leaders commonly provide support in cases with highly complex facts or technical issues or where we are not meeting planned milestones. They also assist where cases raise systemic issues of broader significance.

    Technical and Settlement Panel

    As part of our assurance process, our officers refer certain income tax issues to our Technical and Settlement Panel.

    The panel, comprising senior technical officers, provides assurance on decisions relating to larger income tax audit cases, more complex technical income tax issues and settlements subject to the ATO Code of Settlement.

    The panel helps us make timely, high-quality decisions by providing expert technical advice on complex matters. Matters that must generally be referred to the panel include position papers and reasons for decision documents involving:

    • tax shortfalls of over $5 million, or
    • the issuing of default assessments under section 167 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936
    • settlement submissions
    • fraud or evasion submissions
    • shortfall penalty decisions that propose penalties of over $1 million or at the rate of 75% for intentional disregard.

    Our officers may refer complex matters for discussion or workshop as necessary, including those that fall under the ATO Code of Settlement.

    General Anti-Avoidance Rules Panel

    The General Anti-Avoidance Rules Panel helps to administer Part IVA and other general anti-avoidance provisions. It ensures decisions about applying these provisions are objectively based and well-considered. The panel's role is advisory but our decision-maker must take the panel's advice into account.

    Matters are generally referred to the panel after we have issued a position paper and considered your response. The panel may consider matters without your response where:

    • it is for the purpose of providing preliminary advice about a matter
    • you have chosen not to respond to the position paper
    • there are time constraints
    • a reasonable time has passed without a response.

    To help the panel provide us with advice, you will usually be invited to address the panel meeting. Before attending a panel meeting, you will also be asked to provide a written submission.

    See also:

    Last modified: 08 Sep 2017QC 44842