ato logo
Search Suggestion:

Our commitment to you

In the taxpayers' charter we commit to giving you information and advice you can rely on.

Last updated 29 March 2020

The information in this publication is current at May 2005.

If you try to follow the information contained in our written general advice and publications, and in doing so you make an honest mistake, you won't be subject to a penalty. However, as well as the underpaid tax, we may ask you to pay an interest charge.

We make every effort to ensure that this information and advice is accurate. If you follow our advice, which subsequently turns out to be incorrect, or our advice is misleading and you make a mistake as a result, you won't be subject to a penalty or an interest charge although you'll be required to pay any underpaid tax.

If you feel this publication does not fully cover your circumstances, please seek help from the Tax Office or a recognised tax adviser. Since we regularly revise our publications to take account of any changes to the law, you should make sure this edition is the latest. The easiest way to do this is by checking for a more recent version on our website at

Your rights

It is important that you are aware of your rights and obligations when dealing with the Tax Office.

When we make a decision about your tax affairs, we will tell you about your rights and obligations in relation to that decision. We will also give you contact details in case you have any queries or need more information.

There is information under 'Your rights' on the Tax Office website at To get a printed copy of the Taxpayers' charter – what you need to know (NAT 2548), phone our distribution service on 1300 720 092.

How self-assessment affects you

Self-assessment means the Tax Office uses the information you give on your tax return to work out your refund or tax debt. You are required by law to make sure you have shown all your assessable income and claimed only the deductions and tax offsets to which you are entitled. The Tax Office does not take any responsibility for checking the accuracy of the details you provide in your tax return. However, at a later date the Tax Office may examine the details contained in your tax return more thoroughly by reviewing specific parts, or by conducting an audit on your tax affairs.

What are your responsibilities?

It is your responsibility to lodge a tax return that is signed, complete and correct. Even if someone else - including a tax agent - helps you to prepare your tax return, you are still legally responsible for the accuracy of your information.

What if you lodge an incorrect tax return?

Our audit programs are designed to continually check for missing, inaccurate or incomplete information. If you become aware that your tax return is incorrect, you must contact us straight away.

Initiatives to complement self-assessment

There are a number of initiatives administered by the Tax Office which complement self-assessment. Examples include:

  • if you take reasonable care with your tax affairs, you will not receive a penalty for honest mistakes - but please note that an interest charge on omitted income or over-claimed deductions and tax offsets could still be payable
  • the process for applying for private rulings
  • your entitlement to interest on early payment or over-payment of a tax debt
  • the process for applying for an amendment if you find you have left something out of your tax return.

Do you need to ask for a private ruling?

If you are concerned about the way a tax law applies to your personal tax affairs, you can ask for a private ruling by completing a Private ruling application form. You should lodge your tax return by the due date, even if you are waiting for the reply to your application. You may need to request an amendment to your tax return once you have received the private ruling.

We publish all private rulings on our website. What we publish will not contain anything that could identify you. For more information on private rulings, including the application form, visit the Tax Office website at