This thought leadership articles examines the circumstances in which a taxpayer has a statutory right to receive reasons from the Commissioner of Taxation. It is important for taxpayers to keep in mind that reasons are not always provided, nor are they required to be. The fact that they are typically provided makes any refusal to do so, when it occurs, seem exceptional and, in many cases, unfair. However, in the absence of any change in law or policy, it is ultimately a matter for the Commissioner/ATO to decide and which might be revisited only once a decision to litigate the decision has been made by the Taxpayer.
The Taxpayer’s Charter does set an expectation that the Commissioner will be “open, transparent and accountable” in his dealings with taxpayers. Accordingly, despite the limitations on a taxpayer’s legal right to reasons, if a taxpayer is met with a refusal by the Commissioner to provide reasons, or receives insufficient reasons and this impedes their ability to understand a decision or weigh up next steps, the taxpayer should consider availing themselves of their right to complain, including via the ATO Complaints Unit and/or the IGTO complaints service.
We have also prepared a briefing slidedeck which summarises key points from the article. The briefing slide deck can be downloaded by clicking the second PDF link above.
This article was primarily authored by Senior Investigator Robyn Thomas, with input from Karen Payne, Duy Dam, Rosina Lai and Anita Hong.