ATO Practice Statement Law Administration
PS LA 1998/1Law Administration Practice Statements
This document has changed over time. View its history.
|1. Why do we have Law Administration Practice Statements?|
|2. What are LAPS?|
|3. What are your responsibilities in relation to LAPS?|
|4. What are the types of LAPS?|
|5. Who maintains a LAPS?|
|6. How is a LAPS developed?|
|7. More information|
|This practice statement is an internal ATO document, and is an instruction to ATO staff.
If taxpayers rely on this practice statement, they will be protected from interest and penalties in the following way. If a statement turns out to be incorrect and taxpayers underpay their tax as a result, they will not have to pay a penalty. Nor will they have to pay interest on the underpayment provided they reasonably relied on this practice statement in good faith. However, even if they don't have to pay a penalty or interest, taxpayers will have to pay the correct amount of tax provided the time limits under the law allow it.
This Law Administration Practice Statement explains the system of Law Administration Practice Statements.
1. Why do we have Law Administration Practice Statements?
Law Administration Practice Statements (LAPS) are corporate policy documents, which provide instructions to ATO staff on the way they should perform certain duties involving the application of the laws administered by the Commissioner - usually referred to as 'technical' work.
Policy for the performance of technical work should be issued in the form of LAPS. Office minutes and other communications shouldn't be used for this purpose, except in an interim nature whilst a LAPS is being developed.
2. What are LAPS?
The following provide the basic principles behind LAPS:
- The primary purpose of a LAPS is an instruction to staff. Although technical issues may be discussed in LAPS, this should only be to the extent required to give sense to the instruction. LAPS are not intended to provide interpretative advice.
- LAPS do not express a precedential ATO view.
- Although the primary audience for a LAPS is ATO staff, in the interest of open tax administration, they are published externally.
A taxpayer who relies on particular LAPS will remain liable for any tax shortfall if those LAPS are incorrect, or are misleading and the taxpayer makes a mistake as a result. However, they will be protected against any shortfall penalty that would otherwise arise. In addition, they will be protected against interest charges on the shortfall if the particular LAPS were reasonably relied on in good faith.
3. What are your responsibilities in relation to LAPS?
You must be aware of and follow LAPS relevant to the task you are performing.
When developing guidelines, work instructions or other tools to support policy outlined in a LAPS, you are to ensure that the underlying intent of the LAPS is maintained, and you must include a link and a reference to the LAPS.
If you think that the application of a particular LAPS has an unintended consequence, or that the particular LAPS is incorrect, you must escalate the matter using your business line escalation process.
4. What are the types of LAPS?
There are two series of LAPS - the standard series (such as this one) and the general administration series.
General administration LAPS are identified by a (GA) after their number. These LAPS outline an exercise of the Commissioner's powers of general administration (which are set out in the various Acts administered by the Commissioner), and provide practical compliance solutions in situations where a strict interpretation of the law may be unsatisfactory.
5. Who maintains a LAPS?
LAPS are 'owned' by a business line, and it is the responsibility of that business line to maintain the currency of that LAPS.
6. How is a LAPS developed?
The process for developing a LAPS depends on the type of LAPS it is.
The procedures for developing a LAPS are outlined in the LAPS information kit. You should follow these procedures when creating a LAPS.
7. More information
For more information:
- Visit the LAPS intranet site
- View the LAPS information kit (link available internally only)
- View LAPS on ATOlaw (internal) or Legal Database (external)
- Commissioner's powers of general administration (link available internally only)
- Email the Law Publishing and Policy team in Tax Counsel Network at TCNLawPublishingandPolicy@ato.gov.au.
|Date of amendment||Part||Comment|
|19 February 2015||All||Rewritten practice statement published|
|19 December 2013||Throughout||Removed Law and Practice and replaced with Tax Counsel Network.
Removed Law (from Practice Management) and replaced with TCN
Minor changes to formatting
|Paragraph 24||Removed 'staff' and replaced with 'ATO personnel'|
|Paragraph 37||Updated Sub-plan Executive with Group Executive|
|Paragraphs 36, 39 and 41||Replaced Taxpayers' Charter team with Charter Review team|
|Paragraph 42||Replaced Second Commissioner (Law) with Second Commissioner (Law Design and Practice)|
|2 May 2013||Paragraph 7||Insert requirement to ensure underlying intent of the LAPS is maintained when ATO personnel are developing guidelines or similar products to support the LAPS|
|Footnote 6||Insert instruction to consider packaging GA LAPS documents for Commissioner's approval where the GA LAPS will need to issue in a short timeframe and will be issued for external consultation|
|Throughout||Minor changes to wording to reflect updates to Branch name, other references|
|18 October 2012||Throughout||Updated processes to reflect withdrawal of the priority technical issue system
Removed requirement to undergo official extension of time process if due dates pass
Updated names of relevant areas of responsibility
Updated citations and style in accordance with corporate requirements
|Paragraph 2||Allowed for interim policy to be distributed via office minute, subject to conditions|
|Paragraph 39||Removed the active role of the Assistant Commissioner, Law Practice Management Unit in the registration and approval processes of process LAPS|
|29 November 2011||Various||Unified format of headings|
|Various||Formatting of LAPS citations updated as per ATO Standards for Citations and References|
|Paragraph 12||Maintenance & Support team's role in LAPS currency review.|
|Paragraph 30||Removed reference to former Commissioner Carmody's speech as this link is no longer available|
|Paragraph 42||DCTC approval of topics being added to the LAPS Program|
|Paragraph 39||Assistant Commissioner's details updated to Law Practice Management Unit.|
|Various||PTI & Public Rulings Branch updated to PTI & Public Rulings Unit (PTI & PRU).|
|Various||Tax Office updated to ATO as per the ATO Style Guide.|
|27 August 2009||Paragraph 14||Sentences included to allow for the introduction of point in time functionality|
|Paragraph 37||Inserted to mandate the use of Siebel in the development of LAPS. All consequent paragraphs renumbered|
|Paragraphs 39, 42 and 45||Amended to allow for minor changes to the process due to the introduction of Siebel|
|Related practice statements||Hyperlink to PS LA 2009/4 added|
|Other references||Hyperlink to Siebel procedures added|
|21 May 2009||Paragraphs 45 - 46||Amended to incorporate the process outlined in PS LA 2009/4 in relation to obtaining approval for the exercise of the Commissioner's power of general administration|
|23 September 2008||Contact details||Contact details updated|
|29 June 2007||Various||Amended to:
|31 July 2006||Various||Amended to:
|Also previously amended on 20 December 2002, 4 May 2003 and 9 June 2005|
Date of Issue: 17 December 1998
Date of Effect: 17 December 1998
See Law Administration Practice Statement PS LA 2008/3 Provision of advice and guidance by the ATO.
For example, section 8-1 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997.
Related Practice Statements:
PS LA 2008/3
law administration practice statements
ITAA 1997 8-1
|21 May 2009||Updated statement|
|27 August 2009||Updated statement|
|29 November 2011||Updated statement|
|18 October 2012||Updated statement|
|2 May 2013||Updated statement|
|19 December 2013||Updated statement|
|You are here||19 February 2015||Updated statement|
|17 April 2018||Updated statement|
|This practice statement was originally published on 17 December 1998. Versions published from 21 May 2009 are available electronically - refer to the online version of the practice statement. Versions published prior to this date are not available electronically. If needed, these can be requested by emailing