• Agenda items


    Dispute Resolution Sub-committee agendas, minutes and related papers are not binding on the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) or any of the other bodies referred to in these papers. While every effort is made to accurately record views expressed, the wording necessarily represents a summary of statements of general position only, and care should be taken in interpreting those statements. These papers reflect the position at the date of release (unless otherwise noted) and readers should note that the position on any issue may subsequently change.

    1. Introductions, apologies, confirmation of previous minutes

    The Chair opened the meeting at 10am and welcomed members.

    Apologies were accepted from:

    • Michael Cranston ATO
    • Christine Darcey ATO
    • Prof. Tania Sourdin Academic
    • Michelle de Niese CTA

    Acknowledgement of alternative members and Guests:

    • Peter Chochula ATO
    • Elizabeth Goli ATO
    • Sirla Jafri ATO
    • Paul McNab PWC
    • Paul Krakauer CTA

    The ATO recognised the contributions to the sub-committee of Chris Branson QC.

    No conflicts of interest were raised. Draft minutes of the previous meeting were approved.

    2. Review of action items

    Action Item 1 – Complete – ATO circulated draft PSLA 2007/23 ATO approach to ADR and the ATO Plain English Guide.

    Action Item 2 – Complete.

    Action Item 3 – Complete.

    3. Independent Review

    ATO thanked members for their valuable contributions.

    ATO provided a summary of the implementation of the independent review function.

    4. Review of consultative arrangements

    ATO advised that a review was being conducted of external forums.

    Members were advised that this forum had a limited life.

    5. Dispute Management Plan

    ATO circulated a draft DMP.

    General discussion on the contents of the DMP.

    DMP to be finalised in July 2013.

    6. Law Administration Practice Statement 2007/23 – ADR in ATO Disputes and Litigation and ATO Plain English Guide to Dispute Resolution

    As part of the ATO’s strategy to implement agreed recommendations arising from the Inspector-General of Taxation’s report into Early and Alternative Dispute Resolution (“IGT Report”), the ATO is updating its Practice Statement on ADR and publishing a Plain English Guide to Dispute Resolution.

    Draft documents were circulated and feedback was requested.

    The members had a general discussion on the contents of the draft PSLA and the plain English guide.

    Action item



    Table of comparison between the current LAPS and the draft to be prepared and circulated



    Due date

    14 June 2013

    7. Update on project to capture participant feedback in ADR

    The IGT Report at Recommendation 5.4 recommended that for the purpose of identifying opportunities to enhance its dispute resolution capability, the ATO should:

    • implement an independent system to collate and assess feedback from all parties, their representatives and ADR practitioners as to the effectiveness of the process, including the conduct of the ATO’s representatives when engaging in ADR and any suggestions for improvement; and
    • publish this feedback to improve public confidence in the use of ADR, internally recognise good performance of ATO representatives and to identify areas for improvement.

    The ATO provided an update as to the progress of the implementation of the recommendation.

    Data is to be captured from 1 July 2013. It applies to all tax disputes including pre-litigation ADR; the feedback will be captured quarterly and where feasible, real-time improvements implemented. At the end of 12 months an annual report will be prepared and published externally.

    8. Pilot - ATO officers as facilitators

    Recommendation 3.6 of the IGT Report recommended that the ATO undertake a pilot of assess the utility and effectiveness of using in-house trained ATO officers to act as facilitators to assist in resolving smaller, less complex disputes. The implementation of this recommendation was managed jointly as a Tier 3 project by ITX and LSB. ITX supplied the cases (small and less complex) and LSB (together with ATO People and LB&I) supplied the facilitators.

    The ATO provided an update, a summary of which follows:

    • Pilot proper has been finalised;
    • Evaluation sub-committee was formed - members are Judy Sullivan, Tania Sourdin, Sue Williamson, Steve Lancken, Niv Tadmore, Paul McNab and Gina Lazanas.
    • Evaluation report has been drafted in consultation with the evaluation sub-committee.
    • Final draft to be completed by 28 June 2013.

    ATO thanked the evaluation group for their very helpful feedback.

    General discussion on further information to be included in the evaluation report, where to from here and the challenges in relation to the confidence of decision makers and geography/cost.

    9. Test case funding

    The ATO updated the members as to the recent publication of a new ATO Test Case Funding Program Guide and the test case litigation register.

    Action item



    The ATO is seeking member feedback on the Test Case Funding Guide.



    Due date

    30 July 2013

    10. ATO submission on review of Freedom of Information Act 1982

    PS CM 2013/02: Information pro-disclosure confirms the ATO policy on information disclosure.

    Its purpose is to outline the Commissioner's expectation that information disclosure will promote community understanding about how and why the tax and superannuation administration affects them, and why particular ATO decisions are made. This is consistent with government information policy and legislation, and with our vision, direction and values of being open and accountable.

    It references the obligations of the ATO for:

    • the publication of information,
    • the disclosure of information through administrative access schemes, and
    • the processing of freedom of information (FOI) requests

    Action item



    Members to provide comment on Corporate Management Practice Statement: PS CM 2013/02: Information pro-disclosure, particularly on how it may affect the need for taxpayers to make FOI requests during compliance action.

    Member comments will be considered and discussed at the next NTLG Dispute Resolution Sub-committee on 2 September 2013.



    Due date

    9 August 2013

    11. ADR in Valuation Disputes

    ATO agreed in principal with the member submission to test the joint appointment of an independent valuer in valuation disputes. Peter Coakley suggested to Paul McNab that we try to find an appropriate case to pilot the approaches outlined in the PwC paper. Paul thought that might be possible and was going away to think about a few cases on his radar.

    Action item



    Paul McNab to nominate a case to test the joint appointment of an independent valuer.


    Paul McNab

    Due date


    12. Identification of TIES Issues (standing item)

    No new issues identified.

    13. Sub-committee “Top 3 issues” (standing item)

    • Independent review.
    • FOI Information sharing
    • Revision of LAPS 2007/23 and plain English guide.

    [NOTE: the order of presentation of an Issue in this list is not intended to convey any order of importance ascribed to the Issue]

    14. Feedback from member conferences and/or seminars

    None presented.

    15. Other business

    No other business.

    Next meeting and close

    Next meeting will be held 2 September 2013 at the ATO office in Goulburn Street, Sydney.

    The Chair closed the meeting and thanked members for their input.

      Last modified: 19 Aug 2013QC 36139