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Dispute Resolution Working Group key messages 22 August 2022

Summary of the key topics discussed at the Dispute Resolution Working Group meeting 22 August 2022.

Last updated 10 October 2022

Charter and purpose

The group last convened in 2019 but going forward our expectation is the group will meet regularly.

A charter has been developed to support the Dispute Resolution Working Group.

The group will be looking at the whole disputes pipeline, including dispute resolution issues that may arise during audit, the objections process and litigation.

Law design and practice structure changes

The structure of Law Design and Practice changed in late 2021.

Recognising the importance of both the objections and litigation functions, the restructure split the functions so that there is now a Deputy Commissioner to focus on objections, Andrew Orme and a Deputy Commissioner to focus on litigation. Fiona Knight.

The business line formerly known as Review and Dispute Resolution was renamed Objections and Review. It undertakes objections and independent review, has carriage of in-house facilitation and dispute assist and administers the tax clinics.

The Office of Chief Tax Counsel is headed up by Fiona Dillion as the Chief Tax Counsel. Litigation and Legal Services as well as Tax Counsel Network are part of this business line. Litigation and Legal Services responsibilities include the test case funding panel, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Small Business Funding and Independent Assurance of Settlements.

Implementation of recommendations from Taxpayer Review Rights

The group discussed the implementation of recommendations from the Inspector-General of Taxation report An investigation into the effectiveness of ATO communications of taxpayer rights to complain, review and appeal (PDF 5.55MB)This link will download a file.

Implementation of the recommendations included:

  • updates to staff training packages and procedures to ensure staff awareness of their responsibilities to communicate taxpayer review rights, manage taxpayer complaints and respect taxpayer’s rights of review
  • development of a communication strategy for staff
  • updates to internal forms to be able to identify which element of the Charter a complaint relates to
  • updates to the search function on so that information that pertaining to taxpayer rights to complain, review and appeal are easily located.

Information regarding the avenues to complain to the ATO will be made more easily accessible on once the key word search improvements have been implemented.

Implementation of the recommendation concerning the Taxpayers’ Charter is progressing in the context of a broader review of the Charter.

Current state of objections and litigation

There has been a significant decrease in objections stock on hand since mid-2020. This is important for the client experience because it means cases can now be allocated promptly to objections case officers.

A significant driver of objections in the last 2 years has been remediation projects, including objections following the Commissioner of Taxation v Douglas and Addy v Commissioner of Taxation decisions. There were also significant stimulus objections in 2020 and 2021, which have now tailed-off.

The Commissioner of Taxation was successful in a high proportion of Part IVC litigation cases in 2021–22. It was noted that there has been a significant decrease in debt litigation in the last 2 years.

Clarifying the meaning of ‘independence’ in the objections process

The group discussed work that has commenced to clarify for staff the operation of communications protocols governing communication between objections staff and original decision-makers. The aim is to ensure a consistent approach by staff. Objection decisions should be fully informed, and the protocols should support this whilst also ensuring the structural and functional independence from original decision-makers. The experience over 7 years in working with the protocols will inform this work.

Accessibility of objections for small business and individuals

The group discussed the current experience for individuals in lodging objections, including issues with the existing objection form. There was a presentation on opportunities being explored to make the objection lodgment process more contemporary and accessible.


Attendees list




Andrew Orme (Chair), Objections and Review


Farisha Ali, Objections and Review


Fiona Knight, Office of the Chief Tax Counsel


Hoa Wood, Individuals and Intermediaries


Leanne Simon, Strategy and Support


Leigh McCarthy (Secretariat), Objections and Review


Rebecca Saint Deputy Commissioner PG&I


Renae Ali, Objections and Review


Richard Mold, Objections and Review


Tim Rowe, Objections and Review

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand

Ashley King

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand

Paul McNab

CPA Australia

Andrew O’Bryan

Federal Court

Alison Legge

Law Council of Australia

Hugh Paynter

Law Council of Australia

Paul Sokolowski

The Tax Institute

Chris Kinsella

The Tax Institute

Sue Williamson

The University of Newcastle

Tania Sourdin


Apologies list



Administrative Appeals Tribunal

Kim Richardson

Corporate Tax Association

Paul Suppree

Federal Court

Catherine Forbes

Federal Court

Catherine Krol