Options for resolving disputes, including Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), litigation and settlement

We try to resolve disputes quickly and efficiently through direct communication and negotiation. Where issues arise we seek to work collaboratively with taxpayers to avoid them escalating into disputes wherever possible.

Principles and policy for managing disputes

Our Dispute Management Plan (DMP) outlines the ATO’s high-level framework for managing and resolving disputes, including identifying our key principles. Our disputes policy is a supporting document that complements and provides the underpinning framework for our DMP.

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Options for resolving disputes

There are structured options for resolving disputes before they reach the litigation stage. This includes ATO in-house facilitation, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and the early assessment and resolution (EAR) process for all cases lodged with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Settlement policy

In a dispute about a tax or superannuation liability or debt, or an ATO decision, the ATO may consider agreeing to a settlement with the taxpayer, consistent with the Code of settlement.

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Litigation policy

Litigation is appropriate where:

  • there is a contentious or uncertain point of law that requires clarification and it is in the public interest to seek law clarification through litigation
  • the behaviour involved is such that we need to send a strong message to the community
  • there is a longstanding unresolvable debt
  • the dispute is intractable, alternative means of resolving the dispute have been attempted but have not produced an acceptable outcome.

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Independent reviews for large business taxpayers

To facilitate the effective and timely outcome of an inherently complex process, large business taxpayers can request an independent review of the proposed outcome of an ATO audit before it is finalised.

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Last modified: 06 Oct 2016QC 44429