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Taxpayers left in the lurch on appeals, complaints channels: IGTO


Less than one in 10 taxpayers say they are aware of their rights to appeal an ATO decision with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal small business taxation division, an interim report by the tax watchdog has revealed.

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The figures, from the Inspector-General of Taxation and Taxation Ombudsman’s (IGTO) community survey of less than 100 taxpayers, come ahead of the watchdog’s final report into effectiveness of the ATO’s communication of taxpayer rights to review, complain and appeal.

While nearly all respondents agreed that effective communication of their rights to review, complain and appeal is important, a significantly smaller population said the ATO regularly communicated those rights.


While 72 per cent of respondents said they were effectively told of their right to lodge a tax objection, only 39 per cent said they were made aware of their right to request an internal ATO review, while 35 per cent said they were aware they could lodge a formal ATO complaint.

Just 12 per cent of respondents understood their right to request an independent investigation by the IGTO, while 7 per cent said they were aware of their right to appeal to the AAT small business taxation division.

Tony Greco, the Institute of Public Accountants general manager of technical policy, said the low levels of awareness of a taxpayer’s rights warranted further investigation.

“Without taxpayers being aware of these options, it would be interesting to know if this could have led to unnecessary litigation or taxpayers accepting the revenue authority’s decision without mounting a challenge,” said Mr Greco.

“A larger sample of a diversified representative group is required to assess the impact of some of these early observations.”

The IGTO’s interim report also found that over one in three taxpayers said they were not given reasons for an ATO decision, the information considered in making the decision, details of the ATO officer who made the decision, and their contact details for follow-up.

IGTO Karen Payne said the findings of the survey has helped her identify areas for further inquiry. The final report of her investigation is due to be published later this month.

“The survey has helped the IGTO to better direct our investigation into the relevant business lines and areas of communication within the ATO,” said Ms Payne.

“The feedback we receive from stakeholders is invaluable in assisting us with planning and shaping responses to help the needs of Australian taxpayers, tax professionals, business and the wider community.”

Taxpayers left in the lurch on appeals, complaints channels: IGTO
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Jotham Lian

Jotham Lian


Jotham Lian is the editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.

Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.

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