We recognise that there is a regulatory and policy framework that governs the way we deal with different types of disputes. Some regulatory requirements and ATO policies apply to all of our disputes. Our strategies for resolving disputes must continue to operate within this regulatory and policy framework.
- provisions of the Public Governance Performance and Accountability Act 2013External Link about appropriate spending of Commonwealth monies
- provisions of the Legal Services DirectionsExternal Link dealing with the Commonwealth's obligations as a model litigant and with handling of monetary claims
- the Civil Dispute Resolution Act 2011External Link which encourages the resolution of civil disputes prior to filing applications in the courts
- the Prosecution policy of the CommonwealthExternal Link and our policy statement on Fraud Control and the Prosecution Process
- the Taxpayers' Charter – outlines what you can expect from us in our dealings with you
- our statement PS LA 2009/9 Conduct of Tax Office litigation sets out our approach to the conduct of litigation
- our statement PS LA 2013/3 Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in ATO disputes that sets out policies and guidelines we follow when attempting to resolve or limit disputes by using various dispute resolution processes.
Review mechanisms for all types of disputes include:
- requests for judicial review of certain administrative decisions under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 by the Federal Court
- complaints to the Inspector General of Taxation and Taxation Ombudsman (IGTO)External Link that has a specialist team focusing on reviewing the problems arising between us and clients.
With complaints, the following apply:
- You have the right to make a complaint under the Taxpayer's Charter.
- Registered agents can make a complaint to the ATO about ATO decisions, services or actions.
- We deal with complaints in accordance with the Taxpayers' Charter.
- Feedback and complaints explains how registered agents can make a complaint.
- Complaints, compliments and feedback offers general information.
- The charter can be found at Taxpayers' Charter.
With tax and super disputes, the following apply:
- The Code of settlement practice provides guidance on our approach to settlement of taxation disputes.
- The confidence in the tax compliance of large corporate groups provides guidance on how we will work with large business to resolve disputes.
- You can make an application for litigation funding under our Test Case Litigation Program if it is in the public interest to clarify the issue in dispute.
- You have the right to object against some of our decisions if allowed by law. If you object, our decision will be reviewed by an ATO officer who was not involved in the original decision.
- If you disagree with our decision on your objection you will have the right to seek an external review under Part IVC of the Taxation Administration Act 1953External Link by the Administrative Appeals TribunalExternal Link [AAT] – dispute resolution processes made available by the Tribunal prior to a hearing include
- neutral evaluation
- case appraisal
- If you disagree with our decision on your objection you will also have the right to an external review under Part IVC of the Taxation Administration Act 1953External Link by the Federal CourtExternal Link – dispute resolution processes made available by the court prior to a hearing include mediationExternal Link.
- With international disputes, mutual agreement procedures are available under our international tax agreements and can be conducted by us with revenue agencies for other countries if we have an agreement to avoid double taxation of taxpayers with them.
The OECD websiteExternal Link has information on:
- Dispute resolutionExternal Link
- Dispute resolution – MAP profilesExternal Link
- Manual on Effective Mutual Agreement ProceduresExternal Link
- Confidence in the tax compliance of large corporate groups.
With debt disputes, the following apply:
- Our statement PS LA 2011/7 Settlement of debt litigation proceedings sets out our guidelines in relation to settlement, recovery and compromise of litigation to recover tax debts.
- An outstanding debt for a matter you dispute continues to accrue interest while the dispute is unresolved – refer to Interest and penalties.
- Our statement PS LA 2011/4 Collection and recovery of disputed debts also provides guidelines for managing the collection and recovery of disputed debts.
- Our statement PS LA 2011/3 Compromise of undisputed tax-related liabilities and other amounts payable to the Commissioner sets out our guidelines in relation to factors to be considered and principles to be applied in reaching decisions on applications to compromise undisputed taxation debts.
- Sometimes we need to use stronger actions to recover outstanding tax debts. For more information about when this may occur and what action we may take, refer to Stronger action.
With access to information, compensation and privacy disputes, the following apply:
- Our policy for handling compensation and similar monetary claims against the ATO is set out at Applying for compensation.
- The Commonwealth's circular on discretionary compensation and waiver of debt mechanismsExternal Link, relates to compensation for detriment caused by defective administration. See Applying for compensation and act of grace paymentsExternal Link.
- Comcover is the Australian Government's general insurance fund. Commonwealth agencies that are fund members, such as the ATO, can purchase cover for all normally insurable risks (with the exception of workers' compensation) – you can find general information about claims to ComcoverExternal Link.
- The Office of the Australian Information CommissionerExternal Link issues, as part of its administration of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 and the Privacy Act 1988, guidelines that decision-makers must apply.
With employee disputes, the following apply:
- Our employees are able to obtain an overview of available guidelines and processes through which they can raise allegations or issues of concern. Our documents and procedures encourage officers to resolve the matter informally and as soon as possible. This approach is reflected in the dispute avoidance and settlement procedures under our Enterprise Agreement which has an initial emphasis on discussions between the employee and their manager.
- Unresolved workplace disputes can be referred to Fair Work Australia. Members of Fair Work AustraliaExternal Link are experienced in a wide range of dispute resolution techniques including
- Requests for a review of employment decision through the Merit Protection CommissionExternal Link – offer the following forms of dispute resolution
- workplace conferencing
- Complaints of discrimination in employment can be made to the Australian Human Rights CommissionExternal Link.