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Dispute Assist

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

Last updated 23 June 2024

When Dispute Assist can help

If you have lodged an objection to resolve your dispute and need additional support, Dispute Assist can help if you:

  • can’t afford or don’t have access to a paid professional (for example, an accountant, tax agent or legal representative)
  • are impacted by significant or exceptional personal circumstances (for example, relating to your physical, social or mental health, family or finances) that affect your ability to work through the dispute.

How we can help

We may assign an experienced Dispute Assist guide to help you through the objection process and work with all parties towards resolving your dispute.

The guide is independent from your objection, and they will:

  • connect you with the right people 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 access services to help you move forward.

We’ve received positive feedback that Dispute Assist makes the dispute process easier to understand.

If we have considered your request but are unable to assign you with a Dispute Assist guide at this stage, we’ll contact you to let you know. If your circumstances change as your matter progresses, contact us through link opens in a new window so we can reconsider your request.

How to apply for Dispute Assist

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

If you’ve already lodged your objection or are unable to complete Question 9b, contact link opens in a new window to discuss your eligibility for the service.

Example: Requesting Dispute Assist after disagreeing with a decision

We amended John’s tax return to disallow some work-related expenses, but he disagrees with the decision. John has a major depressive disorder and finds it difficult to understand our processes. He is also 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 from his objection and will help him understand the process. Eman is not a decision maker but she connects John with different areas of the ATO to help him resolve his issue.

During the objection, Eman:

  • helps John explore different options and ensure a fair process
  • listens to John’s circumstances and facilitates communication between John and the tax officers he speaks with
  • helps John identify information to support his objection
  • discusses the next steps in the process
  • suggests 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 also connects John with another area of the ATO to enter into a payment plan for the amount he owes.

End of example