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Dispute Assist

Dispute Assist is a free service that helps individuals and small businesses with the dispute process.

Last updated 26 July 2021

Who can use Dispute Assist

We recognise some taxpayers involved in an objection or dispute process may need additional support, including those:

  • who are unrepresented, or can't afford or don't have access to a paid professional
  • with significant or exceptional personal circumstances.

When we can help

Dispute Assist can help you if:

  • you have lodged an objection
  • your objection (dispute) isn't being lodged by a formal representative or you no longer have a representative (for example, an accountant, tax agent or legal representative)
  • you let us know that you are experiencing significant or exceptional circumstances and you tell us how these circumstances affect your ability to work through your tax dispute.

How we can help

An experienced Dispute Assist guide will be assigned to help you through the dispute process and work with all parties towards resolving your dispute.

A Dispute Assist guide is independent from your objection or dispute process. The independent guide will:

  • connect you with the right people in an attempt to resolve your dispute as early as possible
  • ensure all options have been explored in resolving your dispute
  • assure you that your dispute will be handled fairly
  • help you to access services to help you move forward.

Taxpayers have given us positive feedback about Dispute Assist and said it made the dispute process easier to understand.

How to apply for Dispute Assist

If you haven't yet lodged an objection form and would like to be considered for Dispute Assist, outline your personal circumstances in the space provided on the objection form at Question 9b.

If you have already lodged your objection, you can contact to discuss your eligibility for the service.

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Example: requesting Dispute Assist after disagreeing with a decision

John’s tax return was amended by the ATO to disallow some work-related expenses. He disagrees with this decision and lodges an objection. John has a major depressive disorder and finds it difficult to understand ATO processes. He is struggling financially and is currently unemployed. John completes question 9B on the objection form to request the Dispute Assist service.

John is contacted by a Guide, Eman, who explains that, while she is an ATO employee, she is independent and will help him to understand the objection process. Eman is not a decision maker but she connects John with different areas of the ATO to help him resolve his tax issues.

During the objection, Eman:

  • helps John explore different options and ensured a fair process
  • listens to John’s circumstances and facilitates communication between John and the ATO tax officer
  • helps John to identify information to support his objection
  • discusses the next steps in the process
  • suggests some external community support services that could help John.

Through Dispute Assist, John is able to support some of his work-related expenses, resulting in a reduced debt and the full remission of penalties. Eman connects John with another area of the ATO to enter into a payment plan for the amount owing.

End of example