A.1.1 The ATO has disagreed with some the IGT's recommendations in whole or in part. Those recommendations with which the ATO disagreed with in whole are set out in this Appendix. Those recommendations with which the ATO disagreed in part are not reproduced here as they have been reproduced throughout the previous chapters of this report.

Review into the ATO's administration of the Superannuation Guarantee Charge

A.1.2 The ATO disagreed with the following recommendation in the Review into the ATO's Administration of the Superannuation Guarantee Charge.

Recommendation 4

To minimise the timeframe between SG non-compliance and the ATO's detection, the ATO should significantly expand its proactive SG audit work to allow for more real-time monitoring and rapid follow up of high-risk employers, especially in the micro-business segment, who have not paid superannuation. This should include:

  • Increased reliance on data-matching approaches; and
  • Increased community presence through more targeted field work along the lines of the FWO campaigns.

This also requires the ATO to further develop its risk identification strategies to more effectively detect the different types of SG non-compliance as each requires different analysis techniques and detection mechanisms.

ATO response — disagree

The ATO already uses data matching techniques to identify employers at risk of non compliance and will be able to do this with even more precision with the availability of Reportable Employer Superannuation Contributions data.

The ATO already targets high risk industries and employers. Approximately 95 per cent of our proactive audits are in the micro segment.

The ATO already has a high percentage of its proactive audit resources in field activities. Any further increase would have to be carefully considered due to the high costs of each field activity compared to a phone or desk audit.

The ATO is committed to addressing all employee SG complaints in a timely way and this necessarily constrains the resources available for proactive work. Nevertheless, 27 per cent of our compliance resources working on SG are doing proactive risk-based work.

Having regard to the overall level of risk in the SG system, and the range of other tax and superannuation risks that the ATO is required to address, we believe that the current level of resources allocated to addressing SG risks is appropriate.

Review into the underlying causes and the management of objections to Tax Office decisions

A.1.3 The ATO disagreed with the following recommendation in the Review into the Underlying Causes and the Management of Objections to Tax Office Decisions.

Recommendation 5

The Commissioner should remit the general interest charge for the time taken by the Tax Office to finalise an objection beyond a 60-day 'available to the Tax Office' period where the taxpayer has acted in good faith.

ATO response — disagree

The Tax Office's ATO Receivables Policy currently provides a broad and well balanced approach to the recovery of disputed debt and the remission of GIC, and appropriately addresses any instances of Tax Office delay in resolving objections. Remission decisions will be based on all the facts and circumstances of the case and will not follow any pre-determined formula.

Review into the Tax Office's administration of public binding advice

A.1.4 The ATO disagreed with the following recommendation in the Review into the Tax Office's Administration of Public Binding Advice.

Key Recommendation 2

The Inspector-General recommends that the Tax Office take steps to ensure that any rulings in its TR, TD or MT series which are currently called 'rulings', but which are not in fact legally binding rulings, are separately identified or are re-named in a way which ensures that taxpayers are not misled as to the legal status of such 'rulings'.

ATO response — disagree

The Tax Office considers the preamble to each of these rulings is clear and unambiguous in identifying their status and stating the protection afforded to taxpayers. The preamble is considered to be located in a logical and transparent place in the document, being immediately below the header. In addition, post-ROSA, each page of a formal series ruling which contains legally binding material carries a label in the header identifying that page of the document as being legally binding.

Moreover, the Tax Office considers that these documents have been known and viewed as rulings for considerable time, even though they may not be capable of being legally binding. These include the Income Tax (IT) series and the Superannuation Guarantee (SG) series of rulings and determinations. The Tax Office is not aware of any evidence that there is confusion about the status of such documents. Indeed, the Tax Office considers that the implementation of this recommendation, particularly in relation to pre-ROSA rulings referred to in the report, would cause rather than remove confusion, and would not alter the way in which these rulings might be used or viewed by the community.

Nevertheless, going forward, the Tax Office will make appropriate further enhancements to the existing page status label in its formal series rulings to address any perceived confusion about the binding nature of the material on any particular page.