Our formal notice powers
The information we need to administer the Australian tax and superannuation systems generally resides with taxpayers, their advisers or other parties involved in their business and tax affairs. Where the information we need is not given to us cooperatively, we have formal information-gathering powers available to us, including our notice powers.
You have rights and obligations when we issue a notice to you. It is important to understand the reasons why you have received the notice, how you should respond to it and what you can expect from us.
A formal notice may require you to do any of the following:
- give information – to answer our questions in writing, based on your knowledge and understanding
- attend and give evidence – to attend an interview and answer questions, based on your knowledge and understanding – you may be required to give the evidence on oath or affirmation
- produce documents – to send documents to us.
The circumstances in which we issue a notice are varied, and range from simple verification procedures to situations where there is evidence of serious tax avoidance. You may receive a notice in relation to your tax affairs, or as a third party who may be able to assist us with our enquiries.
The decision to use our notice powers is reviewable by the Federal Court under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977. You are entitled under section 13 of the Act to request a 'statement of reasons' for a decision to issue the notice. Our decision not to grant an extension of time to comply with a notice is also reviewable.
For details of the number and types of notices we issued during 2014–15 for compliance and debt collection purposes, see figure 3. The total number of notices covers situations where we have combined notices for information and documents with notices requiring formal interviews. The total also includes formal offshore requests. We list the legislative provisions supporting our notice powers under Legislative references.
Figure 3 Information-gathering notices issued in 2014–15
The grounds for review of a decision to use our notice powers are set out in section 5 of the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977.