Role and Responsibilities of the Inspector-General of Taxation - Summary
- The Inspector-General, established in 2003, is an independent statutory
office to review systemic tax administration issues and to report to the Government
with recommendations for improving tax administration for the benefit of all
- The Inspector-General’s reports to Government are required to be made
public by the Government.
- The sole focus of the Inspector-General is on tax systems. Such tax systems
focus on the conduct of the Tax Office or the underlying tax laws dealing
with administrative matters, including, for example, the process for assessing,
collecting, paying or recovering amounts under a tax law, or the enforcement
of a tax law.
- The Inspector-General cannot review taxation policy. The Board of Taxation
is responsible for advising the Government on specific tax policy issues.
- The Inspector-General does not deal with individual taxpayer matters. Individual
taxpayer disputes are handled by the Commonwealth Ombudsman.
- The Inspector-General effectively has sole control in setting his work program
and determining the terms of reference of a review. In practice, the Inspector-General
sets his work program after consultation with the community.
- The Inspector-General, in the conduct of his reviews, can invite submissions
from the public or particular groups of taxpayers or tax professionals. He
may receive submissions in confidence and is also able to hold meetings with
taxpayers, tax professionals or their representatives.
- The Inspector-General has strong powers to compel production of documents
by tax officials and to take evidence from tax officials where this proves
necessary. This ensures that systemic tax administration issues can be rigorously
pursued and resolved.
- The Inspector-General cannot direct the Commissioner of Taxation, other
than to require the Commissioner to disclose information for a review. This
means the statutory independence of the Commissioner of Taxation is retained.
- The Inspector-General is appointed by the Governor-General and, effectively,
is an arm of the Executive, reporting directly to Government, although accountable
to Parliament as a independent statutory agency.
- The Inspector-General and his staff are based in Sydney. The agency has
regular consultation with accounting, tax, legal and business bodies throughout