Recommendation 3.1

The IGT recommends that the ATO:

  1. develop a formal framework of continuous improvement for its risk assessment tools which includes:
    1. periodic reviews with clear milestones;
    2. ensuring that case officers are consistent and accurate in reporting case related data and other pertinent matters in all relevant cases;
    3. improving intelligence capture through greater engagement between risk managers and operational teams across different business lines such as Indirect Tax and Smarter Data;
    4. developing a suite of performance reports for use within the Indirect Tax business line and ATO Executive Committees; and
  2. prioritise the deployment of the On-Line BAS Check tool.

Recommendation 4.1

The IGT recommends that, in respect of pre-issue GST refund verification, the ATO:

  1. consolidate and streamline its guidance to its officers with an emphasis on adhering to the statutory requirements;
  2. ensure that interactions between its officers and taxpayers as well as its officers' consideration of statutory requirements are accurately and consistently documented and that team leaders use such documentation to assess the performance of officers and the taxpayer experience;
  3. provide a mechanism to automatically alert its officers and team leaders to notify taxpayers of the retention of their refunds within the statutory period; and
  4. improve its communication with taxpayers by ensuring that they are provided with sufficient reasons for the retention of their refunds and the other information provided to them is accurate and up to date.

Recommendation 4.2

The IGT recommends that, in undertaking pre-issue GST refund verification, the ATO:

  1. periodically review its information requests templates with input from stakeholders, including industry experts, to ensure that those requests are appropriately focused on addressing the risks identified; and
  2. consider allowing taxpayers and tax practitioners to pre-emptively provide information online to assist in the timeliness of the verification process.

Recommendation 4.3

The IGT recommends that the ATO:

  1. make effective use of its automated system to calculate the 60-day period within which taxpayers may lodge an objection and inform them accordingly; and
  2. provide information to assist taxpayers in lodging such objections effectively.

Recommendation 5.1

The IGT recommends that the ATO:

  1. improve access to and raise awareness of taxpayers, tax practitioners and its own officers about assistance available in serious financial hardship cases including full or partial release of GST refunds;
  2. ensure that the appropriate consideration of the financial impact on taxpayers, as required by paragraph 8AAZLGA(2)(c) of the TAA 1953, and serious financial hardship claims are carefully documented; and
  3. develop an automated system for the partial release of GST refunds.

Recommendation 6.1

The IGT recommends that the Government consider amending section 8AAZLGA of the TAA 1953 to allow the Commissioner, in appropriate cases, to effectively investigate and address risks of fraud the seriousness of which has been established by means such as obtaining a Federal Court order.