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  • Independent Assurance of Settlements program

    The ATO is committed to working with taxpayers to resolve disputes as early and cooperatively as possible and settlement is an important mechanism for resolving disputes as part of good administration.

    The Independent Assurance of Settlements (IAS) program, implemented in 2016, reviews and advises on our largest and most significant settlements.

    This is to provide the Australian community with confidence that ATO settlements and the settlement processes are fair and reasonable and consistent with legal principles.

    The program involves four former Federal Court judges who provide a view on whether the settlements are fair and reasonable. Settlements selected for review include those involving multi-national enterprises, those arising from Corporate Tax Avoidance Taskforce operations, income tax or indirect tax (GST, excise).

    The criteria for a settlement to be selected for review are:

    • the pre-settlement position is greater than $50 million,
    • the settlement amount is greater than $20 million,
    • the variance is greater than $20 million.

    Any other case which is considered significant (for example, potential reputational significance, media interest) will be selected by a deputy commissioner for assurance purposes.

    Assurer feedback on all reviewed cases provides important learnings, which we apply to improve how we conduct settlements.

    Australian National Audit Office report findings

    In a 2017 reportExternal Link by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO), the IAS program was found to be contributing to the ATO’s improvement of its enterprise approach to settlements, with the ATO having the highest level of reporting around settlements compared to other national revenue authorities internationally.

    The findings of the ANAO report also indicate that the ATO’s use of settlements is effective and positive. It found the IAS program gave valuable assurance that settlements entered into with large businesses and multinational enterprises resulted in fair and reasonable outcomes for the Australian community.

    The ANAO also noted in their review the ATO had the highest level of transparency and public reporting around settlements when compared to other national revenue authorities.

    See also:

      Last modified: 13 Nov 2018QC 57334