Complying with a notice
If you receive a notice, you are required to comply with it. This may involve giving information, attending and giving evidence and/or producing documents.
We generally explain why we require the information, and give you an opportunity to discuss the notice with us. A face-to-face meeting may not always be required – for example, if the information stated in the notice is unlikely to require explanation, such as details in support of a motor vehicle expense claim. In more routine cases, our practice is to provide a contact point where you can seek advice or discuss the notice.
We are committed to working with you to identify the most efficient way for you to respond to our information-gathering requests. To minimise your compliance costs, we consider whether there are alternative sources of the information that may satisfy our enquiries. However, there are times when we require specific documents, so we cannot always accept alternatives.
Sending a notice
There are a number of ways we can send a notice to you. You can also request how you would like the notice sent if we are already in discussions.
Generally we use the most recent address notified on Australian Taxation Office (ATO) systems. In some situations, we will send your notice to another address we have on record – for example, where no preferred address for service has been given, or we are not satisfied that the preferred address is likely to be effective.
Time and place to comply
Our notices to give information or produce documents will advise how to comply, including the date and place. Our notices to attend and give evidence will also advise the time of your interview.
As a general rule, the place to attend and give evidence will be one of our sites. Where possible, we will arrange for that site to be the closest to your location – except where an alternative place convenient to all parties has been agreed to.
If the information or documents we require is held by a third party, we will normally consult them about the most convenient way for them to comply with our notice. Particular arrangements may be needed where they store the information electronically or there are other issues impacting on how the information is kept. We explain our approach to gathering electronic information under Gathering electronic information.
Period of time to comply
We generally give you 28 days to comply with a notice. Shorter or longer periods of time may apply in some cases.
When determining how much time to give you, we generally consider:
- the nature and extent of the information we need
- the amount of documentation required
- any previous requests made (even if they were not identical)
- the urgency of obtaining the information
- any previous correspondence or contact.
We also take matters into account that may affect your ability to comply, such as:
- your locality and the mode of service
- the availability of the information or documents
- the processes necessary to retrieve and produce the information or documents
- your cost of complying with the notice
- other concurrent obligations you may have, such as the preparation of annual accounts
- the resources available to you to obtain or prepare the information
- any other information requests made by us or other regulatory bodies.
A longer period may be given if we seek more extensive details – for example, information on transactions which took place over several years. Alternatively, a shorter period may be warranted – for example, when:
- you have agreed to comply within a shorter time
- our compliance activities relate to the current year
- more immediate compliance is required
- you have a history of non-compliance.
We will give you sufficient time to seek advice on claiming legal professional privilege, the accountants' concession or the corporate board advice concession.
Extension of time to comply
It is not our normal practice to vary the notice arrangements after a notice has been issued. In some circumstances, we may decide to grant an extension of time to comply with the notice. Although the law allows us to amend the time for compliance with a notice, we will usually withdraw the initial notice and issue you with a further notice with a later date to comply.
If you have difficulty responding to a notice in the time allowed, you are able to request an extension of time in writing for our consideration. The earlier you make your request the better. To allow us to make an informed decision, the request must include:
- a statement that you are not able to comply with the notice on or before the date specified
- the reasons why you cannot comply on time
- an alternative date on which you will comply.
If we decide that additional time will not be granted after considering your request, we will inform you of that decision in writing. If you still consider the timeframe is not long enough, the decision can be escalated to a senior officer. You can also contest our decision through the courts. It is important to remember that non-compliance with a notice may result in prosecution.
Example – Longer period to comply
AXC Pty Ltd (AXC) is the head company of a large group which is under audit for the years 30 June 2011 to 30 June 2014. Peter, the Tax Manager and authorised contact person, receives a phone call from Allison, our officer conducting the audit. Allison requires information and documentation in relation to AXC and its associated companies. Based on AXC’s past compliance behaviour, Allison has advised Peter that the information will be obtained using a notice.
Peter and Allison arrange a mutually appropriate time to meet and discuss the information and documents required. Due to the amount of information and documentation required, Peter and Allison agree that the notice will be broken up into three separate notices using a month-by-month staggered timeframe to allow time for Peter to provide the response.
Due to the nature of the notices it would be unreasonable for Peter to comply within the usual 28 days. However, it is reasonable for Peter to provide the response on a month-by-month basis. Allison can commence her review of the information and documentation without holding up the audit.
This arrangement helps progress the audit in a timely manner.
End of example