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ATO Consultation framework

Find out about our consultation framework, our reference document for people involved in consultation.

Last updated 25 April 2023


At the ATO, we recognise consultation is an important part of our role to effectively manage and shape the tax, superannuation and registry systems.

Consultation contributes to good decision making. It can mitigate unintended results, and improves our services and advice to the community. Consultation builds trust in our administration which can improve voluntary compliance with obligations.

We consult with the community and stakeholders and are committed to doing so in line with best practice.

Our framework shapes what good looks like for ATO consultation activities. We have 6 principles to guide the why, what, who and how of consultation. These principles are what we measure our effectiveness against.

Our framework is a reference document for people undertaking consultation. It is guided by Australian Government consultation approaches and feedback from stakeholders.

Governance of consultation effectiveness is overseen by the National Tax Liaison Group.

ATO approach to consultation

Consultation plays an important role in informing decision making and shaping a better system.

Consultation is the process used by the ATO to gather information from the public to make decisions. It is a process of informed, 2-way communication between the ATO and stakeholders to ensure we better understand the impact of decisions for the system and stakeholders.

This helps us improve the quality of our decision making, and ultimately the services and advice we provide the community.

In determining the approach for consultation, ATO staff must be purposeful and engage in good planning. This means considering:

  • timeframes
  • purpose
  • outcomes
  • benefits
  • resources required
  • how the information gathered will be used.

These considerations indicate when consultation should occur, who should be involved and how we consult.

Consultation should occur for:

  • government initiatives that will have a substantial impact on the community
  • significant public advice and guidance where the law to be addressed is complex, the ATO view may be contentious or sensitive, there may be a perception of a change in the ATO view, or there may be a significant community impact
  • major administrative changes impacting system or process, including ATO and or the broader tax ecosystem, that directly affect taxpayers.

There will be situations where it is not practical or appropriate for the ATO to consult. This includes where there is no opportunity for the community to influence the decision, approach or other events. For example, natural disasters impact the ability of business or the community to contribute.

We recognise that we may need to cease consultation, particularly where there may be little or no benefit in continuing, or other demands are more pressing. When this occurs, we will inform participants of our decision to close our consultation and communicate the ATO’s position in relation to the feedback provided.

Our framework seeks to ensure improved, and more consistent approaches to consultation right from the start.

Our consultation principles guide and support our consultation approach.

How our consultation principles guide and support our activities to achieve quality consultation.

Find out about how we consult and what to expect for anyone involved in consultation.