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  • How we develop public advice and guidance

    Our approach to developing and managing public advice and guidance involves:

    • assessing the risk associated with the issue, not the product type
    • working with industry and tax professionals to identify topics for future advice and guidance and areas where existing advice and guidance needs to be updated
    • consulting stakeholders early and frequently throughout the process
    • ensuring we have the right people producing advice and guidance, with the right tools to support them
    • ensuring our advice and guidance is tailored, accessible, clear and current
    • providing public advice and guidance in the right form and delivering it through the most appropriate channel, at the time it is needed.

    Consultation on public advice and guidance

    A key element of our approach is an emphasis on early and frequent consultation with key stakeholders. Through consultation, we seek to ensure that we:

    • identify and clarify the issues and topics that matter most to our clients
    • are guided by our clients when deciding the appropriate product to address the issues
    • gather practical input into the product being proposed
    • reduce the time taken to issue the advice or guidance (through an early understanding of stakeholder views, and by identifying and resolving contentious issues early in the process).

    The ATO's Consultation Hub is responsible for coordinating the ATO’s consultation process and arrangements with external stakeholders.

    We publish details of the matters we are consulting on – including the purpose, who we are consulting with, the current status and the expected completion date. Through our Advice under development program, we also publish details of matters on which we are considering preparing public advice or guidance.

    Consulting by issue of a formal draft

    Some products (for example, public rulings and law companion rulings) are generally issued initially as drafts because of their binding nature.

    The decision on whether to issue the product as a formal draft or not will depend on the issue. This public consultation period is in addition to more targeted consultation that may occur during the development of the product.

    If you want to make a submission on a draft product, refer to the particular product on our Legal Database.

    Public advice and guidance panel

    Public advice and guidance may be taken to the public advice and guidance panel (the panel) for review during its development. The panel considers and advises on the proposed interpretation of the law and other issues that emerge in the development of public advice and guidance.

    The panel consists of:

    • senior ATO officers
    • respected tax specialists
    • academics
    • a representative from the states and territories when goods and services tax (GST) rulings are discussed.

    It is chaired by a Deputy Chief Tax Counsel, and includes up to three members from outside the ATO on a topic-by-topic basis.

    As well as giving advice about interpretative matters and technical accuracy, the panel may advise us on a range of related issues associated with the preparation of public advice and guidance, including:

    • whether issuing public advice or guidance is the best way to clarify the law or an alternative (such as legislative amendment or litigation) should be used
    • whether the structure and wording of the proposed public advice or guidance can be improved to make it easier to understand
    • whether there are realistic examples we can include to make the public advice or guidance more useful
    • the most appropriate date of effect for the proposed public advice or guidance
    • whether there are other related topics that may also be appropriate for public advice or guidance.

    The panel may support, challenge or disagree with aspects of our proposed position and make recommendations on the interpretation to be taken. They do not, however, decide on the ATO position. The authoring team decides on the approach to be taken, having considered the panel's views, and in consultation with the panel chair and other relevant stakeholders.

    See also:

    Last modified: 19 Feb 2018QC 40419