The Inspector-General of Taxation and Taxation Ombudsman (IGTO) Karen Payne today released the results of her latest complaint investigations: A Report on aspects of the Australian Taxation Office’s administration of JobKeeper and Boosting Cash Flow Payments for new businesses December 2020.
The key focus of the report is on helping new small businesses understand ATO eligibility decisions concerning Jobkeeper and BCF. There is evidence to suggest that not everyone understands their tax experience and hence this can erode trust and confidence in the system.
Ms Payne said the ATO’s administration in this area has also changed. Importantly, the IGTO’s report improves transparency and communications and helps minimise disputes for the benefit of Australian taxpayers and the tax system.
Ms Payne noted that the report was the first report of this kind to be released by the IGTO.
“This latest report links the dual roles of the IGTO – as both Inspector-General of Taxation and Taxation Ombudsman and throws light on a vital aspect of our role – complaint investigation which minimises disputes,” said Ms Payne. “Public reporting of de-identified private complaint investigations – which includes a number of relevant case study examples – also helps to illustrate and better explain where the ATO sees the boundaries for economic support measures for eligible small businesses.”
In this context, Karen Payne also emphasised that the role of the IGTO is to ensure that taxation laws are being administered in the way they are set out in legislation - that is as enacted by the Australian Parliament and which bring into effect the Australian Government's intended policies.
- fairly, and
Ms Payne said that it was thus vital that taxpayers have an opportunity to demonstrate their trading circumstances are eligible for both JobKeeper and Boosting Cash Flow support measures before they are deemed ineligible. The latest report was a key example of the importance of an independent arbiter such as the IGTO to the community.
“This report and transparent reporting of the findings of the IGTO’s investigations is in the public interest for this reason alone,” she said.
More broadly, Ms Payne said that investigation of taxation complaints as the Taxation Ombudsman:
- assists taxpayers and tax practitioners (the community) understand their experience in the tax system.
- helps to minimise disputes which are raised in the tribunals and the courts.
- helps to improve the administration of taxation laws – including by reducing red tape and compliance costs for taxpayers and the overall tax administration system.
IGTO’s role is to assist the Australian community
Looking more broadly Karen Payne said it is also important that the community understands:
- SME Eligibility - New small businesses can demonstrate they are eligible for economic support measures other than by lodging a Business Activity Statement with the ATO before 12 March 2020;
- ATO Reviews - The ATO has agreed to review some of its earlier decisions - this includes taxation complaints raised with the IGTO, as well as objections and appeal cases which raise JK and BCF eligibility disputes for new small businesses;
- Making Contact - The ATO has not identified or contacted all potentially affected taxpayers so for those who have not been contacted but think you may be affected, Ms Payne advises they engage directly with the ATO in the first instance.