Review into the Australian Taxation Office’s use of early and alternative dispute resolution – publicly released 31 July 2012
Introduction to the review
In this review, the Inspector-General of Taxation (IGT) examined the effectiveness of the Australian Taxation Office’s (ATO's) use of early and alternative dispute resolution (ADR) practices.
The review found that, in some instances, our dispute resolution processes worked well, with senior staff appropriately engaged, issues identified, and ADR processes employed to address and resolve specific cases.
However, in other cases, some taxpayers’ experiences appeared to be varied, with officers appearing uncertain of their ability or authority to engage in discussions with taxpayers to address concerns and resolve disputes early in the process.
The review made a number of recommendations that relate to:
- audit conduct and communication
- taxpayer engagement at all stages of a dispute (audit, objection and litigation)
- information gathering
- technical capability and support
- our Test Case Litigation Program.
To implement these recommendations, we will:
- update the Taxpayers' charter - If you're subject to review or audit publication to include links to the publications that contain more detailed information about dispute resolution and alternative dispute resolution
- improve dialogue with taxpayers by providing greater opportunities for discussion
- review our staff training packages and methods, as appropriate, to ensure the best outcomes for the taxpayer and us
- review a certain number of processes and policies to improve the efficiency and transparency of our dispute resolution process
- consult and engage with external stakeholders.
Since the IGT's review, the Commissioner of Taxation has announced improvements to the dispute resolution process, including ensuring independence when a review is conducted as well as early, better and more cost-effective dispute resolution.