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  • ATO Executive statement on ABC/Fairfax coverage

    The ATO strongly disagrees with the allegations and views put forward by Fairfax and the ABC in recent coverage about our administration of the tax and superannuation systems. The media have taken a handful of isolated cases, presented only one side of the story, and then extrapolated these to suggest systemic issues with our administration of the tax and super systems.

    It is our view the coverage includes unbalanced commentary and opportunistic journalism, as well as ill-informed analysis of the facts.

    The truth is less sensational.

    Several of the cases mentioned are more than five years old, and have already been subject to external review, including through the Inspector-General of Taxation.

    The work we have done over the last five years in re-inventing the client experience and our culture means many of the allegations from these cases are not representative of today’s practices.

    Where we have made mistakes we will apologise and seek to rectify the position and restore the relationship with the taxpayer.

    The majority of our clients have a seamless positive engagement with us.

    Of the almost 150 million interactions and transactions we have with taxpayers each year, almost all progress smoothly and well.

    Less than 0.1% of all interactions result in a complaint or an objection.

    There is absolutely no evidence that in roughly 5 per cent of cases the Tax Office gets it wrong. In addition, no review, scrutineer or credible source has ever found a pattern of abuse towards small business owners by the ATO.

    We know the overwhelming majority of small businesses want to do the right thing and we are proud of the work we have done to improve the experience of small businesses, and the transformation of our culture to focus on client service and early intervention. In addition, our capability, resources and laws equip us to effectively administer the tax and super systems.

    The feedback we consistently receive from credible sources – like small businesses themselves and their key industry associations – is positive about how we listen and respond to their needs. We are concerned this coverage serves only to create tension and worry for small businesses where it did not previously exist, and perhaps even stop people from coming to us to get things sorted. That’s the worst outcome for everyone.

    Last modified: 10 Apr 2018QC 55063