5. Independent review process
Debbie Hastings updated members on the Independent Review Function. In developing this process, the ATO consulted with the a range of stakeholders including the Large Business Advisory Group (at the 18 April 2013 meeting), the National Tax Liaison Group , the Dispute Resolution Steering Committee, the Inspector-General of Taxation, the Ombudsman and the ATO Audit Committee. It was also presented to several stakeholder groups including law firms in Sydney. The independent review function commenced on 1 July.
The Independent Review offers large business the opportunity to request a review on the technical merits of their income tax audit, not just the process. This can be requested before the ATO position is finalised. The reviewer will be an officer from our law area who has not previously been involved with the case, and will be at least a peer of the original decision maker.
Debbie outlined how the process will work including the following stages:
- examination and disclosure stage – audit undertaken; position paper stage
- review stage – request and independent review; request is assessed and allocated; case conference; evaluation and provision of recommendations
- finalisation stage – final ATO position issued
- feedback stage – Independent review debrief.
Members indicated support for this initiative and sought clarification on a number of points in the process.
Members were invited to provide feedback through the LBLG Secretariat on the process as it unfolds over the coming months.