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Dispute Resolution Working Group key messages 31 August 2023

Key topics discussed at the Dispute Resolution Working Group meeting 31 August 2023.

Last updated 2 October 2023

Charter and purpose

The Chair welcomed new members and led a discussion about the purpose of the group. The group is focussed on issues relating to dispute resolution and would not generally cover specific tax topics, even if there are some disputes on those issues. Topics generally covered by the Dispute Resolution Working Group (DRWG) can span the dispute resolution spectrum and members are encouraged to be active participants in shaping the agenda for each meeting.

Disputes landscape and previous items presented

The ATO is very busy across the disputes landscape, particularly noting several objections on-hand in the middle market, and small business and individual areas. This is resulting in some delays and the ATO is working on process improvements to bring objections stock-on-hand back to optimum levels.

Some matters of note in the dispute's environment included:

  • the Inspector General of Taxation Ombudsman’s review into the management of objections
  • the recently published updates to the practice statement on extensions of time to object
  • a forthcoming communications protocol practice statement.

Small business funding changes in the AAT

The small business litigation funding program, the ‘Program’ was previously funded by the Federal Government supported by Appropriation Bill No. 3 (2018–19). This budget measure concluded on 30 June 2023. The ATO’s general budget will fund the Program from 1 July 2023 and considers this Program contributes to a fair and effective tax system and supports trust and confidence in both the tax system and our administration.

As such, the ATO is recommending that the current small business litigation funding policies be better aligned with the policies and practices observed in the test case litigation program, to better protect the integrity of the program and give greater certainty to small businesses.

Small Business alternative dispute resolution

The ATO has a focus on preventing audit getting to dispute, providing a timelier and more cost-effective experience for taxpayers and their intermediaries. There are a few channels for dispute resolution under the ATO charter and the ATO encourages raising disputes with the audit team in the first instance. Taxpayers and intermediaries always have the right to ask for another officer or manager.

The ATO offers a Small Business Independent Review service to eligible small businesses who disagree with our audit position, to help them achieve an early and fair resolution. Small business with a turnover of less than $10 million may be eligible, and there are certain disputes which are excluded from the service including superannuation, fringe benefits tax, fraud and evasion findings and interest.


Attendee list




Andrew Orme, Objections and Review (Chair)


Fiona Knight, Office of the Chief Tax Counsel


Michael Morton, Individuals and Intermediaries


Rebecca Saint, Public Groups

Administrative Appeals Tribunal

Michael Abood

Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman

Craig Latham

Chartered Accountants Australian and New Zealand

Ashley King

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand

Karen Liew

Corporate Tax Association

Simon Staples

CPA Australia

Bill Leung

Law Council of Australia

Angelina Lagana

Law Council of Australia

Hugh Paynter

The Tax Institute

Michael Wells

Guest Attendees

Guest attendee list




Andrea Jennings, Office of the Chief Tax Counsel


Benjamin Murphy, Superannuation and Employer Obligations


Emma Tobias, Small Business


Leigh McCarthy, Objections and Review


Robert Kwan, Small Business


Apologies list



The Tax Institute

Chris Kinsella