Terms of reference

A1.1 On 6 April 2009 the IGT announced the terms of reference for his review of the ATO's administration of private rulings. The terms of reference for this review were to:

  • examine the purpose, use and ongoing relevance of the register of edited private rulings and the relationship of this register to the ATO's more authoritative forms of guidance, such as ATO Interpretative Decisions (ATO IDs);
  • investigate timeliness, accessibility and productivity issues for private rulings, and issues concerning their binding nature;
  • examine the extent to which the ATO has implemented the administrative recommendations on private rulings made in Treasury's 2004 Report on Aspects of Income Tax Self Assessment (the RoSA review) and the Inspector-General's 2008 review on the potential revenue bias in private rulings; and
  • examine, in the context of contemporary risks, the extent to which the design of the ATO Change Program's new system will maintain the integrity and quality of private rulings and deliver benefits to taxpayers.

Conduct of the review

A1.2 The IGT advertised the review on his website, from 6 April 2009. The review was also reported in the press and in specialist accounting and legal publications.

A1.3 Written submissions to the review were taken from members of the public and a number of organisations.

A1.4 Members of the review team also met with members of the accounting and legal profession and with representatives of various professional bodies representing lawyers and accountants.

A1.5 The Commissioner of Taxation was asked to provide information and documents relevant to the review. Visits were made to the various ATO locations, including the National Office in Canberra and offices located in Melbourne, Box Hill, Parramatta, Sydney, Newcastle, Brisbane, Upper Mount Gravatt, Townsville and Hobart to interview relevant ATO staff.

A1.6 The review also took into account a number of other inquiries relevant to this review.