Individuals or small businesses with a tax or superannuation dispute can use our in-house facilitation service.
In-house facilitation is a mediation process where an independent and impartial ATO facilitator meets with you and the ATO case officers to:
- identify the issues in dispute
- develop options
- consider alternatives
- try to reach a resolution.
The service is ideal for less complex disputes and can be used at any stage from the audit, up to and including the litigation stage where appropriate.
The facilitator is professionally trained in facilitative mediation and will not have any previous knowledge or involvement in the case. They don't establish facts, take sides, give advice or decide who is right or wrong. They guide the discussion and aim to keep communication open.
Facilitation is a voluntary process. You or your representative can ask for facilitation or we can offer it. If the facilitation doesn't resolve the dispute, your review and appeal rights are not affected in any way.
Media: In-house facilitation
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After a request for in-house facilitation is found suitable, the facilitation is scheduled at the earliest date convenient for all parties.
In-house facilitations are conducted by videoconferencing, phone or teleconferencing. Where available, they can be held face to face.
Before the facilitation
The facilitator will contact you and the ATO case officers separately to:
- arrange a pre-facilitation meeting so they can outline the process and answer questions
- notify the date, time and the method or setting of the facilitation.
On the day
On the day, the facilitator will:
- outline the meeting structure and explain the expectations and aims for the session
- invite you and the ATO case officers to give your view of the dispute at the start of the facilitation
- help the parties to identify the issues in dispute and options for resolution
- help you and the ATO case officers to evaluate the options and attempt to reach a resolution.
All parties need to:
- participate in good faith
- be respectful to other participants
- be open and transparent
- be willing to negotiate.
Participants should be authorised to discuss and resolve the dispute.
Concluding the facilitation
When concluding the facilitation, if:
- agreed by the parties, the facilitator can assist in recording the outcomes of the facilitation.
- no resolution is decided, either
- the audit or objection will be determined according to usual processes
- other options including your review or appeal rights will be discussed with you.
This statement of expectations applies to all in-house facilitation participants and facilitators. It outlines what is expected of participants and what they can expect from the process.
The role of in-house facilitation participants is to present their view of the facts and issues of the case. Participants include ATO officers involved in the case, the taxpayers and any representatives of the taxpayers.
All participants will:
- be prepared for the facilitation, including ensuring all relevant people are participating or directly accessible
- clarify any limitations of the scope of the facilitation process before it starts
- be authorised to discuss and resolve the dispute
- take part in the facilitation fully and in good faith
- have an objective approach to settling the issues and be willing to negotiate and attempt to resolve all aspects of the dispute
- be respectful of all parties, and the facilitator
- be open and transparent in providing information directly relevant to the case to enable a better understanding of the facts and issues
- adhere to confidentiality requirements.
The facilitator's role is to manage the discussion between the participants with a view to resolving the dispute, or at least making progress towards resolution.
The facilitator will:
- be accredited in accordance with the National Mediator Accreditation System (NMAS)
- have training, skills and experience in conducting facilitation processes
- act in good faith and within the law
- support the integrity and fairness of the process
- attempt to bring the process to a conclusion in a reasonable time
- be impartial and avoid any actual or perceived conflict of interest
- not have an interest in the outcome of the case
- not accept any gifts, bribes or rewards
- control the process – they will not encourage any participant to agree to conditions or outcomes which the participant does not want to accept
- not have any previous or future involvement in the case
- immediately disclose to the participants anything that may, or may be seen to, affect their independence, and only continue to act as facilitator in the process with the consent of all participants
- follow the confidentiality requirements.
A facilitator may suspend or terminate the process if:
- facilitation is no longer suitable or productive
- a participant is misusing the process
- a participant is not acting in good faith
- a participant is unable or unwilling to participate or continue.
A facilitator may stop and withdraw from the process if:
- a reasonable request is made by a participant
- anything will impair their ability to meet these expectations.
Any information shared during the facilitation process is only to be used for this process, unless any of the following apply:
- Authority is provided by the disclosing party.
- Disclosure is required by law.
- The information represents an actual or potential threat to human life or safety.
This means that:
- anything said or written during or about the facilitation, must not be shared outside of the process
- the facilitator can only speak or write about the facilitation to the following people
- the other participants
- other people specifically involved in the facilitation process, such as lawyers and expert advisers
- other people agreed by all participants.
To avoid any doubt, no evidence obtained from a participant of the in-house facilitation process can be used by an ATO officer to amend the returns of any person without the prior consent of the participant.
Feedback or concerns
If you have concerns at any stage in the process, you should raise them with the facilitator or email us at email@example.com.
You can withdraw from the process at any time by advising the facilitator and the other participants.
If the facilitation doesn't resolve the dispute, your rights of review will be unaffected. You may still be able to:
- lodge an objection
- appeal our decision to the
Participants (and ATO officers) will be asked to give feedback after the facilitation. We welcome your views of the process so we can make it better and ensure it remains a valuable service in the resolution of disputes.
To request an in-house facilitation, fill in the Request for in-house facilitation form.
Example: requesting in-house facilitation during an objection
Tom owns a company and receives an ATO audit finalisation letter. Tom doesn’t understand the ATO audit decision and decides to lodge an objection.
Tom has been working with the objection case officer but is frustrated by the objection process. He tries to give additional information to support his objection, but his case officer indicates that it is likely his objection will be disallowed. Tom feels unheard and decides to submit a request for in-house facilitation.
An accredited ATO facilitator who has no previous involvement is allocated to Tom's case. The facilitator meets with both parties to understand the circumstances and history of the case at a pre-facilitation meeting. They schedule the facilitation. The parties are invited to give an opening statement.
From there, the ATO further explains its concerns, and Tom provides additional information and clarification. The parties discuss their options, and it becomes clear the company should not have a shortfall penalty.
Through the process, Tom and the ATO agree on a path forward. Tom now has a clear understanding of his tax position. He will still have some tax to pay and agrees to make an upfront payment. Tom enters into a payment plan for the amount he owes.End of example