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Lawyer offers tips for ATO dispute resolution

One industry lawyer has outlined where accountants and their clients are going wrong when seeking penalty remission and dispute resolution with the ATO.

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News Katarina Taurian 14 October 2014
— 1 minute read

Speaking to AccountantsDaily, Cooper Grace Ward partner Scott Hay-Bartlem said accountants and their clients are often not aware of the importance of early interaction with the ATO when a compliance issue is raised.

“Start working on the issue before the ATO has made up its mind … start the process early, engage early, it’s much harder to undo a notice of non-compliance than to explain what actually happened,” he said.

“The best thing to do is to see if you can fix the issue, get on the front foot and disclose it.”

Accountants should be monitoring their client’s correspondence with the ATO in a dispute situation, ensuring there is no room for misinterpretation or ambiguity, Mr Hay-Bartlem also said.

“Make sure you’ve got evidence of your claims, get your documents ready, back it all up, get your story right,” he added.

Mr Hay-Bartlem said clients should ensure their responses to the ATO are succinct and only cover relevant information that is required by the ATO.

“Don’t go on and on. We don’t need to know everything about the client’s life, but we need to make sure we’ve covered off on the relevant facts and the relevant law and apply to the ATO’s position,” Mr Hay-Bartlem said.

“Take it seriously and have a considered, reasoned response. Some people do go on too much, but some people don’t put enough effort into their response,” he said.

Mr Hay-Bartlem also suggested presenting alternative arguments to the ATO, saying “you never know what you’re going to come up on.”

Lawyer offers tips for ATO dispute resolution
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