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Dispute Resolution Working Group key messages 4 April 2023

Key messages from the Dispute Resolution Working Group meeting held 4 April 2023.

Last updated 18 July 2023

Alternative Dispute Resolution in the ATO

The ATO recognises and supports the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) as a cost effective and timely way to resolve disputes and has services clients can engage in based on their suitability to participate. These services include in-house facilitation, Dispute Assist and independent review for small business.

The Resolution Services Director presented an overview of the above-mentioned ADR products (including the use of facilitated conversations) highlighting the eligibility criteria, the process and the key roles involved for each service.

Communications Protocol

The ATO recognises the importance of independence between audit as the original decision makers and objections. A communications protocol has been in place between the two areas since 2015.

The ATO is seeking to improve the existing communications protocol. The improvements will not change the core principles but will provide more clarity and transparency regarding engagement and communications with audit areas/audit officers at the objection stage. There will be a clear delineation of roles and responsibilities of both audit and objection officers, and an explanation of where a modified approach may be needed, such as where there is the provision of significant new information at objection.

The Protocol will not limit reduce the contact or communications with taxpayers.

Law Administration Practice Statement for out of time objections

The ATO is refreshing Law Administration Practice Statement PSLA 2003/7 How to treat a request to lodge a late objection (PSLA 2003/7). The refresh has been initiated given the time passed since PSLA 2003/7 was released and to consider whether the ATO’s current policy on the discretion to accept late lodged objections is consistent with the current case law.

Following the case law review, the main change to PSLA 2003/7 is to remove the presumption in favour of the Commissioner exercising the discretion unless there are exceptional circumstances. This is because that presumption and the reference to exceptional circumstances is not supported by existing case law. The proposed changes intend to provide ATO staff, taxpayers and representatives with greater clarity in the treatment of late lodged objections and application of the discretion in PSLA 2003/7.


Attendee list




Andrew Orme, Objections and Review (Chair)


Faith Harako, Public Groups


Fiona Knight, Office of the Chief Tax Counsel


Hoa Wood, Private Wealth

Chartered Accountants Australian and New Zealand

Ashley King

Federal Court of Australia

Catherine Forbes

Law Council of Australia

Hugh Paynter

Law Council of Australia

Paul Sokolowski

The Tax Institute

Chris Kinsella

The Tax Institute

Sue Williamson

Guest Attendees

Guest attendee list




Daniel Nesci, Objections and Review


Jeneata Segaram, Objections and Review


Joanne Dunne, Objections and Review


Leigh McCarthy, Objections and Review


Tia Puxley, Objections and Review


Apologies list




Rebecca Saint, Public Groups

Administrative Appeals Tribunal

Kim Richardson

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand

Paul McNab

CPA Australia

Andrew O'Bryan

Corporate Tax Association

Paul Suppree