ATO assistance - level of protection summary
Various levels of protection against tax shortfall, false or misleading statement penalty and interest charges exist if ATO assistance is incorrect
Categories Levels of Protection
  Protection from tax shortfall? Protection from false or misleading statement penalty? Protection from interest charges? Related practice statement paragraph numbers
Legally binding advice        
Public Ruling - Division 359 Yes Yes Yes2 29-45
Product Ruling Yes Yes Yes2 51-59
Class Ruling Yes Yes Yes2 60-65
Private Ruling - Division 359 Yes Yes Yes2 80-123
Oral Ruling - Division 360 Yes Yes Yes2 145-182
Administratively binding advice ^ Level of protection is subject to conditions set out in paragraph 199 of this practice statement
Administratively binding advice Yes^ Yes Yes2 190-204
Guidance * Statement penalty and interest charges may be remitted in individual cases for reasons unrelated to the guidance relied on
Published speeches and minutes of consultative forums No Yes Yes2 216-218
Decision impact statements No Yes Yes2 222-223
Media releases No Yes Yes2 219-221
Internal publications:        
- ATO interpretative decisions No Yes Yes2 224-228
- Law administration practice statements No Yes Yes2 229-234
- Technical skilling material No Yes Yes2 235-238
ATO communications not intended to be relied on No No* No* 239-242
Edited versions No No* No* 243-244
Technical discussion papers No No* No* 245-246
Oral guidance No Yes3 Yes2 247-260

1 Notwithstanding that a publication is labelled non-binding, protection against false or misleading statement penalty will be available if it is a publication that has been approved in writing by the Commissioner.

2 Protection against interest on the shortfall is available where the taxpayer acted reasonably and in good faith. It does not cover the general interest charge for late payment of the tax shortfall, that is, after 21 days of the Commissioner notifying the taxpayer of the correct postion. For superannuation guarantee charge matters, the protection does not extend to the nominal interest component of a superannuation guarantee shortfall under section 31 of the Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Act 1992.

3 Only if taxpayer has made a full and true disclosure of the material facts relevant to their enquiry.

Misleading statement Sometimes a statement in an ATO publication might be correct, but a particular taxpayer may have been misled by it on reasonable grounds.Taxpayers who rely on ATO publications (except those labelled as non-binding) that are relevant to their circumstances but are misleading to their intended audience, and who make a mistake by relying on that publication, will be protected from false or misleading statement penalty and interest charges.

Genuine effort to follow ATO assistance Taxpayers that take reasonable care to follow ATO assistance but make an honest mistake will be protected from false or misleading statement penalty and interest charges.