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How we develop public advice and guidance

Find out how we work with tax stakeholders and professionals to manage public advice and guidance.

Last updated 30 September 2019

Our approach

Our approach to developing and managing public advice and guidance involves:

  • assessing the risk associated with the issue, not the product type
  • working with industry and tax professionals to identify topics for future advice and guidance and areas where existing advice and guidance needs to be updated
  • consulting stakeholders early and frequently throughout the process
  • ensuring we have the right people producing advice and guidance, with the right tools to support them
  • ensuring our advice and guidance is tailored, accessible, clear and current
  • providing public advice and guidance in the right form and delivering it through the most appropriate channel, at the time it is needed.

Consultation on public advice and guidance

A key element of our approach is an emphasis on early and frequent consultation with key stakeholders. Through consultation, we seek to ensure that we:

  • identify and clarify the issues and topics that matter most to our clients
  • are guided by our clients when deciding the appropriate product to address the issues
  • gather practical input into the product being proposed
  • reduce the time taken to issue the advice or guidance (through an early understanding of stakeholder views, and by identifying and resolving contentious issues early in the process).

Our Consultation Hub is responsible for coordinating the consultation process and arrangements with external stakeholders.

We publish details of the matters we are consulting on – including the purpose, who we are consulting with, the current status and the expected completion date. Through our Advice under development program, we also publish details of matters on which we are considering preparing public advice or guidance.

Consulting by issue of a formal draft

Some products (for example, public rulings and law companion rulings) are generally issued initially as drafts because of their binding nature.

The decision on whether to issue the product as a formal draft or not will depend on the issue. This public consultation period is in addition to more targeted consultation that may occur during the development of the product.

If you want to make a submission on a draft product, refer to the particular product on our Legal database.

Public advice and guidance panel

The public advice and guidance panel is a consultative panel that considers and advises on the proposed interpretation of the law and other issues that emerge in the development of public advice and guidance.

The panel is chaired by Deputy Chief Tax Counsel for Public Advice and Guidance and consists of respected tax specialists, including tax practitioners and academics. For goods and services tax (GST) matters there is also a representative from the states and territories.

The panel offers advice on interpretative matters and technical accuracy. It may also advise on a range of related issues associated with the preparation of public advice and guidance, including:

  • the suitability of the topic
  • whether the structure and wording can be improved to make it easier to understand
  • whether there are realistic examples we can include to make it more useful
  • the most appropriate date of effect
  • whether there are other related topics that may also be appropriate.

The panel may support, test, challenge or disagree with aspects of our proposed position from multiple perspectives and proffer advice on the interpretation to be taken for consideration by us. We encourage our officers to engage with the panel with an open-minded attitude and be upfront about the strengths and weaknesses of preferred and alternative interpretations.

The panel is advisory in nature; the ATO remains the ultimate decision maker.

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