Labor is committed to giving all taxpayers – particularly small and family businesses – a fair appeals process when dealing with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
Genuine concerns have been raised about the ATO’s engagement with small businesses on tax disputes, including a lack of perceived and real structural separation within the ATO of officials who make tax assessments from those who handle disputes and appeals.
While multinationals and millionaires can afford the experts to navigate the tax system, low and middle income Australians are often intimidated by the tax system and unsure where to turn to get help.
New Second Commissioner - Appeals
A Shorten Labor Government will legislate to establish a new position of Second Commissioner – Appeals within the Australian Taxation Office, reporting to the Commissioner of Taxation, to head up a new appeals area within the Australian Taxation Office.
A separate appeals area in the ATO will mean small business disputes are given the care and attention they deserve. This area will have responsibility for managing tax disputes for all taxpayers, through pre-assessment reviews, objections, litigation including identifying test cases and providing oversight on settlements, and facilitating the use of alternative dispute resolution throughout the compliance and dispute resolution process.
Free Tax Clinics
A Shorten Labor Government will make our tax system fairer by funding 10 free tax clinics in universities across the country to provide free tax assistance for vulnerable communities, individuals and small businesses.
Each tax clinic will have volunteers, students and pro bono tax practitioners on hand to help low income taxpayers and microbusinesses with administrative tax matters, including completing tax returns and responding to queries raised by the ATO.
As part of the 10 free tax clinics, Labor will secure the ongoing tax clinic trial at Curtin University in Perth.
We will also change the law to allow clinics to register as tax agents in their own right, as well as providing deductible gift recipient status to facilitate partnerships with experienced tax professionals and institutions.
We will pay for it by making multinationals pay their fair share and closing tax loopholes used by the top end of town.