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  • How we deal with your application – private rulings

    What to expect when you lodge a private ruling application.

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    Timeframes and communicating with you

    We aim to provide private rulings within 28 calendar days of receiving all the necessary information.

    When we receive your private ruling application we review it and advise you if it's valid or if we need more information. If we find your request raises particularly complex matters that will take longer to resolve, we will aim to contact you within 14 calendar days to negotiate a due date.

    Note: We may experience high volumes of applications for certain private ruling topics and there may be a delay in contacting you in relation to your application.

    We will continue to communicate with you about the progress of your ruling, including the expected timeframe for its issue.

    Requesting further information from you

    If we need more information from you before we can make a decision on your private ruling, we will do that as soon as we can (generally within 14 days of receiving your application) so that your private ruling can be made as quickly as possible. For complex matters, we will contact you to discuss when the request for further information might be able to be made.

    If the request is simple, we might phone you, but where we need more detailed information, we will normally send you a written request for the information.

    We will generally give you 28 days to provide the further information. If you have special circumstances, we may give you an extension in some circumstances. If you do not provide the information within that timeframe, we may decline to rule, or rule on the known information.

    Ruling on matters not raised in the application

    We'll generally rule only on the matters directly raised in your private ruling application.

    If there are other matters we believe to be relevant, we'll tell you about them and ask whether you want us to address them. If you want us to rule on any of these additional matters, you'll need to submit a further private ruling application.

    Making assumptions and using information from third parties

    If we need to make assumptions in order to give you a private ruling, we'll first advise you what they are, and give you a reasonable opportunity to respond. We may decline to rule, rather than make a ruling subject to assumptions.

    If we intend to use any relevant information from third parties to provide you with a private ruling, we will:

    • advise you about the information
    • tell you what it is
    • give you a reasonable opportunity to respond.

    We may decline to rule if disclosing the information will breach the privacy or confidentiality of the third party.

    If you've been given an earlier ruling

    If you have already been given a ruling (oral or private) about the issue raised in your current application, for the same years of income or accounting periods, you should tell us about it. If you fail to do so, any ruling we make in response to this application will have no effect and will be taken not to have been made.

    Private rulings relating to assessments

    If we give you a private ruling that affects an earlier assessment, we will not automatically amend your assessment.

    Assessments and amendments are part of the self-assessment system – this means that taxpayers and tax agents must ask us to amend any assessment affected by a private ruling.

    Withdrawing your application

    You can withdraw your request for a private ruling, or any part of it, at any time before we complete your advice. We will confirm the withdrawal of your application in writing.

    Valuations

    If your private ruling application asks us to determine the value of a thing, or confirm a valuation provided by you, we may refer your request to a professional valuer.

    The valuer charges us a fee, which the law allows us to pass onto you. More information can be found by accessing Private rulings and valuations.

    Delayed rulings

    If we haven't made your private ruling within 60 days of receiving all the necessary information, you may send us a written notice requiring the ruling to be made.

    The 60-day period is extended in the following circumstances:

    • If you've asked about a valuation matter (other than the valuation of a gift or a contribution to a deductible gift recipient) and we refer this to a valuer, the 60-day period is put on hold until we receive a decision from the valuer.
    • If we ask for additional information, or tell you about assumptions or third-party information, the 60-day period is put on hold while we await your response.

    We have 30 days from when we receive the written notice to either provide the private ruling or tell you that we decline to rule on the matter.

    If you don't receive a private ruling or our written reasons for declining to rule within 30 days, you can object to our failure to make a private ruling. As part of the objection, you're required to lodge a draft private ruling.

    If you don't agree with our decision

    You can object to most private rulings in the same way you can object to a tax assessment. But you can't object:

    • to a private ruling if an assessment has been issued that covers the private ruling period, or if withholding tax has become due and payable – in these circumstances, you can object to the relevant assessment
    • to an excise private ruling if we've made a decision about excise duty or any other amount payable in relation to excisable goods and the decision is reviewable
    • where we have declined to rule; however you do have review rights.

    Object to an ATO decision sets out further information.

    Publishing an edited version of your ruling on our website

    To ensure the integrity of our advice, we publish an edited version of every private ruling on our Legal database.

    Before we publish, we edit each ruling to remove all identifying details. This ensures that your privacy is protected. A copy of the edited version will be included with your ruling.

    You will receive more information and a copy of the edited version for review with your ruling.

    If you are concerned that the edited version of your private ruling may still allow you to be identified, contact us within 28 days of the date of your ruling at lawpublishing@ato.gov.au

    or

    Law Publishing
    Australian Taxation Office
    GPO Box 9977
    CANBERRA ACT 2601  

    If you don't contact us within 28 days, we will publish the edited version to our Legal database.

    These can be found at Edited versions on ATO Legal database.

    Last modified: 23 Nov 2022QC 43593