What is a subpoena?
A subpoena is an order to produce documents to a court or tribunal.
How to get your own tax information from us
Your own basic information
If you want your own basic tax information, you can request copies of tax documents. You don't need to apply under freedom of information (FOI) or serve us with a subpoena or a notice to produce. You can access this information via this link to our webpage at Copies of tax documents request – individuals.
You can also apply for documents under FOI, but we cannot give you access to documents about anyone else's tax information. You can access an FOI application form at Freedom of information (FOI) request – individuals and businesses.
Tax law disputes with us
If you have a dispute with us about a tax matter, and the matter is already in court, we encourage you to contact us about releasing information we hold about your dispute.
Tax law disputes are disputes about:
- your tax liability
- your tax debt
- your departure prohibition order
- a decision made under a tax law.
If you need your tax information to help you understand your tax affairs or help you resolve a dispute with us, contact the ATO officer listed on our correspondence with you.
If you decide to subpoena us or serve us with a notice to produce, we do not require payment.
Our addresses for service of a subpoena or a notice to produce can be found at Practice Statement Law Administration PS LA 2002/4. We accept service of subpoenas and other notices to produce by mail.
Non-tax law subpoenas, other notices and garnishee orders
In all non-tax law disputes, under the tax confidentiality provisions we can't be required to comply with a subpoena or other notice to produce anyone's tax information. See Division 355 of Schedule 1 to the Taxation Administration Act 1953External Link.
If we are served with a subpoena ordering us to disclose tax information, we will contact the subpoenaing party and the court and explain why we can't comply. We may ask the court to order you to pay our costs if the subpoena is not withdrawn.
If you decide to subpoena us, we do not require payment at the time of service. A garnishee order issued by a state or territory court in relation to taxation refunds or payments is not enforceable against the Commissioner of Taxation.
The Taxation Administration Act 1953External Link sets out a legal regime under which the Commissioner of Taxation is required to handle taxation payments or refunds owed to a taxpayer. State and territory garnishee laws are invalid pursuant to section 109 of the Constitution to the extent that they are inconsistent with those Commonwealth laws, and the Commissioner of Taxation cannot be required comply.
If we are served with a garnishee order issued by a state or territory court, ordering us to pay a tax refund or payment to another party, we will contact the issuing party and the court and explain why we can’t comply. We may ask the court to order you to pay our costs if the garnishee order is not withdrawn.
Before serving us with a subpoena or seeking to recover funds via the Commissioner in a non-tax law dispute, we encourage you to contact us on 1800 005 172.
Non-tax law disputes include:
- family breakdown
- personal injury claims
- contractual disagreements, or
- seeking to recover a debt.
Our addresses for service can be found at Practice Statement Law Administration PS LA 2002/4. We accept service of subpoenas or garnishee by mail.By law, the ATO can't usually comply with a subpoena for anyone's tax information.