The inspector-general of taxation (IGT) will take over responsibility for handling complaints against the ATO and Tax Practitioners Board from next month.
IGT to handle tax complaints
The role was previously the responsibility of the Commonwealth Ombudsman.
In a statement, the IGT said the integration of the complaints handling function with its existing role will provide a single port of call to which taxpayers and tax practitioners may take their complaints or broader concerns about the tax system as administered by the ATO or TPB.
Ali Noroozi, inspector-general of taxation, said the benefits of such integration include enabling the IGT to be more proactive concerning emerging issues in tax administration.
“As an independent and dedicated scrutineer of the ATO for the past 12 years, my office with its specialist tax staff, is well-placed to help taxpayers and tax practitioners address their individual issues with the ATO or TPB,” said Mr Noroozi.
“Handling single complaints will provide my office with real-time insight into emerging problems and potentially head them off before they become systemic,” he said.
However, as the ATO, TPB and IGT operate independently of each other, the IGT cannot actually compel the TPB or the ATO to take a particular course of action since that is the role of the courts or tribunals.
The IGT has likened its role to a safety valve that can re-establish communication and achieve procedural fairness.
“We will consider all complaints, from the simple to the complex, including those arising during audits, objections and litigation. Our goal is to ensure that taxpayers and tax practitioners are treated with fairness and respect,” Mr Noroozi said.
Last year, the ombudsman reported that his office had received 1,369 complaints about the ATO. The IGT has worked with the ombudsman to ensure that the transfer of the function is smooth and services to the community are not unduly disrupted.
The transfer of this function from the Commonwealth Ombudsman to the IGT was announced in last year’s federal Budget and the relevant legislation was enacted earlier this year.
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