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Guidance for former ATO employees working in related fields

Your responsibilities to the ATO don’t end when you leave. Avoid any conflicts of interest in your new role.

Published 9 April 2024

Our integrity framework for exiting and former employees

Where former ATO employees continue working in related fields such as tax or superannuation, there’s potential for conflicts of interest to arise.

We have a framework in place to manage these potential conflicts of interest. This includes how they’re identified and what mitigation strategies may be put in place.

Beyond our framework, many former ATO employees must also comply with industry-specific professional standards and obligations (for example, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand).


The following guidelines apply to former ATO employees working in related fields.

Current and former ATO employees must:

  • remember they don't own any work performed while working with the ATO – it remains the intellectual property of the Australian Government
  • remember that knowledge acquired while working with the ATO must not be disclosed without authority to do so
  • be mindful of how they engage with us in the course of post-ATO employment
  • notify us of any emerging matters that could result in a conflict of interest or report potential conflicts of interest when dealing with us in the future
  • abide by the confidentiality requirements of the Declaration of Secrecy they signed when starting with the ATO, noting failure to do so can carry criminal penalties.

The ATO may take action against a former employee if they breach these guidelines.

Expectations of former employees contacting current employees

In some circumstances former ATO employees deal with the ATO in a future role.

When doing so, they must:

  • work with us to manage real, potential or perceived conflicts of interest
  • deal with us through the appropriate official channels.

Former employees must not:

  • seek to influence current ATO employees, including pressuring ex-colleagues to act with bias, or attempting to secure favours or influence work
  • lobby us on work they were involved in during their time at the ATO
  • contact our officers directly in relation to work matters (unless the officer is an appropriate official channel)
  • supply contact details or private information about current ATO employees to others.

Managing post-separation employment

There are several ways in which we mitigate any conflicts of interest that might arise when an employee leaves the ATO to work in a related field.

These include:

Before leaving the ATO

Special arrangements are sometimes put in place before an employee’s exit from the ATO to avoid potential conflicts of interest.

Examples include:

  • withdrawing them from case discussions and decision-making relating to their new employer or employment
  • working with their manager to develop tailored mitigation strategies that apply in their new role to prevent conflicts of interest
  • lodging a post-separation employment conflict of interest declaration confirming the mitigation strategies agreed with their manager.

Former ATO SES employee protocols

Standard protocols are in place to help ATO employees in managing professional interactions with former Senior Executive Service (SES) employees.

These protocols are designed to protect our current and former employees from perceptions of bias or conflicts of interest. The protocols are an effective and practical tool for both the ATO and former SES employees to help manage their professional and ethical obligations.

In most circumstances the protocols apply for 2 years from the exit of the SES employee. Examples include:

  • recording all case interactions between us and the former SES employee in an online case file
  • copying relevant team leaders into all case correspondence between an ATO officer and a former SES employer, to ensure all interactions are captured
  • ensuring at least 2 executive or senior executive ATO officers attend any meeting or phone call with a former SES employee
  • ensuring any issues requiring a decision to be made outside normal processes or guidelines (for example, changes from standard ATO process or timeframes) are agreed to by the relevant ATO senior executive
  • in cases relating to a taxpayer or other significant issue that the former SES employee was involved in while employed by the ATO, ensuring the relevant Deputy Commissioner is notified and that steps are taken to avoid real, perceived or potential conflicts of interest.

In addition to these standard protocols it is common for:

  • exiting SES to work with their Deputy Commissioner or Group Head to identify matters or clients that may lead to future conflicts of interest and agree to have no future involvement with them
  • the ATO to apply additional risk mitigation strategies if a conflict of interest arises after an SES has exited, in discussion with the relevant Deputy Commissioner or Group Head.

Additional protocols

Further protocols and procedures may apply to an employee based on assessment of risk. For example, involvement in a taxpayer matter or sensitive project that directly relates to their new employment.