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Tax risk management and governance review guide

This information will help you develop and test your tax governance and tax control frameworks.

Last updated 24 August 2022

Tax risk is the risk that companies may be paying or accounting for an incorrect amount of tax (including both income and indirect taxes), or that the tax positions a company adopts are out of step with the tax risk appetite that the directors have authorised or believe is prudent.

We have embraced the increasingly global view that tax risk management should be a part of good corporate governance. The presence and testing of a tax internal control framework are an integral part of the risk-assessment protocols used by tax authorities.

This guide sets out principles for board-level and managerial-level responsibilities, with examples of evidence that entities can provide to demonstrate the design and operational effectiveness of their control framework for tax risk.

It was developed primarily for large and complex corporations, tax consolidated groups and foreign multinational corporations conducting business in Australia. The principles outlined can be applied to a corporation of any size if tailored appropriately. When appropriate we assess the tax governance processes of large business entities that we have under review. However, the aim of this guide is to help you understand what we believe better tax corporate governance practices look like, so you can:

  • develop or improve your own tax governance and internal control framework
  • test the robustness of the design of your framework against our best practice benchmarks
  • understand how to demonstrate the operational effectiveness of your key internal controls to your stakeholders, including the ATO.

In order to provide a 'whole of tax' best practice framework, this guide has been updated in January 2018 to include excise and indirect taxes including GST, luxury car tax (LCT), wine equalisation tax (WET), as well as to ‘fuel tax’ entitlements (FTCs) and obligations arising under the Fuel Tax Act 2006 in addition to the original income tax guidance.

For directors

Director's summary is an overview of your responsibilities for tax risk management and governance

Overview of your responsibilities for your company's tax risk management and governance as a director.

The board's responsibilities to establish a risk framework and regularly assess policies and controls.

Management's responsibility for capacity and capability, IT controls, accounting, law and administrative updates.

Principles that indicate our view of better practices in relation to corporate tax governance.

Explains the 2 components to testing controls: design effectiveness and operational effectiveness.

These self-assessment procedures have been written to comply with ASRS 4400 Agreed Upon Procedures.

Responsibility of large super funds, managed funds and insurance companies to develop systems and processes.