• Litigation and case law

    Here you'll find information about our approach and philosophy to litigation and alternative dispute resolution, and links to case law and decision impact statements.

    See also:

    Conduct of ATO litigation

    Our approach and philosophy to litigation is set out in our practice statement, PS LA 2009/9 Conduct of Tax Office Litigation. It provides:

    • guidance to tax officers about our obligations to act as a model litigant under the Attorney-General's Legal Services Directions
    • the processes tax officers must follow to ensure those obligations are met, including how to engage external legal service providers.

    The practice statement also explains our commitment to alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in litigation and discusses the various obligations that are imposed under the different court and tribunal rules.

    Case law

    In our Legal database we list Australian court and tribunal decisions that involve tax matters. We also provide a compilation of recent case law decisions, listed alphabetically.

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    Decision impact statements

    We publish decision impact statements (DIS) on significant court and tribunal decisions to inform the community of our view on the implications of a particular court or tribunal decision.

    They set out how the law will be administered as a consequence of the decision, pending any change to existing ATO rulings, but are not public rulings and are not normally expected to contain advice.

    Decision impact statements are published on our Legal database, and are listed by calendar year.

    Test case litigation

    Usually, taxpayers fund their own litigation. However, there are some issues where it is in the public interest to have the law clarified through litigation.

    While only a taxpayer can start such litigation, under the test case litigation program, we provide financial assistance to taxpayers whose litigation is likely to be important to the administration of Australia's revenue and super systems.

    For detailed information, and how your client can apply for test case funding, see Test Case Litigation Program.

    Alternative dispute resolution

    We recognise and support the use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) as a cost-effective, informal, consensual and speedy means of resolving disputes. This extends to using ADR to deal with only part of a dispute, or to deal with procedural or interlocutory matters in relation to a dispute. All tax officers handling disputes must consider whether ADR processes might assist in the resolution of the dispute or limit the scope of the dispute in some material way. ADR processes include direct engagement and negotiation with taxpayers and their representatives.

    See also:

    Last modified: 31 Mar 2016QC 43936