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Disputes about access to information issues

The information you can access in a dispute, what to do if you are unsatisfied and what we can do.

Last updated 30 April 2023

What you can access

You can discuss access to information as part of any dispute including:

Disputes about access to documents we hold can arise in many different circumstances. For example, if a person who is subject to a tax or super audit seeks, and is refused, access to copies of some of the documents relied on by auditors to support an assessment.

Procedural complaints and disputes can be referred to us in the first stance, and then to the:

  • Office of the Australian Information Commissioner for the way we have dealt with a Freedom of Information request
  • Office of the Australian Information Commissioner for privacy matters under the Privacy Act 1988.

What to do if you are not satisfied

With information we provide

If you are not satisfied with the information we provide, you can use our tools or an administrative access scheme to access more information, including:

  • copies of your tax returns and statements – search for 'copies of returns' to access a request form
  • copies of public rulings and determinations
  • information about our organisation, powers and functions, annual reports, appointments, arrangements for public comment, information we routinely provide to the Australian Parliament and the precedential material and guidelines we use for decision making from the statutory Information Publication Scheme
  • your ATO employment records – email the ATO People Helpline or phone 13 15 50.

You can also ask tax auditors for information about our audit position in your case.

If you are an insolvency practitioner, it is now easier for you to get information we hold to help you administer insolvent estates – refer to Administrative responsibilities of a bankruptcy trustee.

With information from an administrative access scheme

If you are not satisfied with information from an administrative access scheme, you can make an FOI request.

With an FOI decision

If you are not satisfied with an FOI decision you can request an internal review of our FOI decision. You can also request that the Australian Information CommissionerExternal Link review our FOI decision.

With the review of an FOI decision

You can request that the Information Commissioner review our internal review decision. You can also request that the Administrative Appeals TribunalExternal Link review the Information Commissioner's decision.

What we can do

To avoid and minimise access to information issues, we will:

  • discuss and when lawful and otherwise appropriate to do so, provide access to your information in regards to your tax, debt, employment or compensation case
  • make it easier for you to request information
  • give you all the information you are legally entitled to
  • work to resolve access to information disputes in the context of any broader dispute
  • work with you to ensure FOI is a last resort
  • be open to all reasonable opportunities for dispute resolution
  • write for the world to see.