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Engaging with us for advice

Engage early if you're considering a complex transaction or applying for a private ruling.

Last updated 1 June 2015

If you're considering a complex transaction or applying for a private ruling, you can contact us prior to lodging your formal ruling application for an early engagement discussion.

Early engagement helps us gain a clear understanding of the issues and signal to you any concerns we may have as early as possible.

To help us provide advice in timeframes that meet your business needs it is best to:

  • Talk to us early: Talk to us about transactions as early as possible to help us meet your deadlines. Early notification helps us to plan ahead so we can have the right people available once you are ready to proceed. It also gives us the opportunity to understand the commercial context you are working in.
  • Have information ready (pre-ruling): Be ready to explain the transaction and the technical issues that concern you at a pre-lodgment discussion. We will help you work out what should be included in your application, including information we will need and issues you should address.
  • Work within timeframes: Send us your comprehensive application and the information we need by the agreed times. We understand that tax is not your only concern when a major transaction is being developed and that it is a busy time for you.

You can expect us to:

  • progress matters within the agreed timeframes
  • maintain open dialogue and keep you informed of the progress of rulings, including where complex cases may take more than 28 days
  • make information requests clear and unambiguous
  • contact you in order to understand the facts and discuss any concerns we might have
  • provide you with a central point of contact and access to the relevant decision-makers.

A full and true disclosure of the material facts will allow us to form a view. If all relevant material facts are not disclosed the ruling cannot be relied upon.

We expect you to:

  • contact us as early as possible so that we can give you the best opportunity to meet your timeframes
  • understand that complex cases may take more than 28 days
  • maintain open dialogue on the issues and facts
  • supply information within agreed timeframes
  • provide us with a central point of contact.

We will tell you about any concerns we have as early as possible. If we become aware that our interpretations of the law diverge, we will inform you while we are still working through the issues. Only the final ruling can be relied upon.

We encourage you to discuss the issue at hand with us, and we will include our decision-makers in these talks.

General anti-avoidance rule

You may consider requesting a private ruling on the application of one of the general anti-avoidance rules (GAARs) to a specified scheme and any particular tax benefit in connection with that scheme. GAARs that may apply include Part IVA of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 and section 165 of the A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax) Act 1999.

Private rulings on the application of a GAAR will need a thorough examination of the facts and purpose of each step in the overall scheme, which may delay the issuing of the ruling or result in a qualified ruling.

To minimise delays, you can ask us to consider the application of a GAAR about specific issues or concerns (that is, specific tax, including indirect tax, benefits) rather than asking us to consider if a GAAR will apply to the scheme in general.

The GAAR Panel helps us to administer these rules. The panel is comprised of a range of business professionals and senior ATO officers.

Administratively binding advice

Administratively binding advice is written advice that we give you in limited circumstances – usually when the law does not allow us to give you a private ruling. It may, for example, be advice about:

  • the tax consequences to a company planning a takeover bid of another company (without the consent of the target company)
  • a scheme proposed by a company that is not yet incorporated
  • a scheme where private or public infrastructure matters are raised and there are no entities yet in existence that can request a private ruling.

See also:

Indicative advice

As part of our ongoing relationship, or in the course of preparing a private, class or product ruling, you may ask us to indicate our likely view of the law for a situation.

We provide indicative advice only if exceptional criteria are met and you acknowledge that the advice is not binding on us and should not be relied on as representing our view of the law on the matter.

See also: