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Reforming the ATO



We oppose expansion of ATO power (16 August 2018)

ATO unfair says ATO report
(2 August 2018)

We give evidence to Senate hearing (June 2018)

Our Reform Agenda

SEA Position Paper: The Power to Audit is the Power to Destroy.

Official reports say ATO abuses self-employed (July 2018)

  • Operates its systems to target revenue collection.
  • Can even (and does) take away ABNs, thereby stopping businesses from operating.
  • Raids people’s bank accounts even before taxpayers have any knowledge there is an issue.
  • Lacks true independence in terms of its internal review processes.
  • Does not provide adequate compensation for its own wrongdoing.

  • Creates perceptions of bias in its processes.
  • Debt collection has been ‘random and ad hoc’.
  • Badly supervised junior staff who issue garnishees.
  • Compensation is just a token scheme and reform is required.
  • 86 per cent of debt actions are against self-employed people.
  • An independent review process is only available to the wealthy.

ATO responds to Four Corners (June 2018)

Four Corners
‘Mongrel Bunch of Bastards’ (9 April 2018)

ABC Four Corners program blows the lid on the ATO’s mistreatment of self-employed, small business people.
This historic and crucial report must be a trigger for ATO reform.

Be prepared: ATO powers exceed those of the police

The ATO can:

  • Raid your home without a warrant.
  • Allege a debt without proper evidence.
  • Demand payment of an alleged debt.
  • Forcibly take (garnishee) money from your bank account.
  • Sell your house.
  • Bankrupt you.

All this before you have a chance to defend yourself.

Seven key ATO powers. Details here for Self-Employed Australia members. Join here.

Small Business Tax Tribunal: Campaign 2017

We launch campaign for Tax Tribunal (5 February 2017)

A low cost, non-adversarial, independent, tax dispute-resolution procedure for small business people. The proposal below is modelled on the current Immigration Tribunal.
  • Tribunal independent from the ATO, made up of tax and legal specialists.
  • Tribunal determination would be required before a matter could go to the courts (AAT or Federal).
  • A small business applicant would pay a modest fee (say, $1,600) for a hearing.
  • Lawyers could not represent either the ATO or the small businessperson in any hearings.
  • The Tribunal would review the ATO’s allegations against the small businessperson with a view to a correct application of tax law.
  • The small businessperson could present his or her case.
  • The Tribunal would make a decision binding on the ATO.
  • If the Tribunal made a decision in favour of the small businessperson, the person would receive a rebate of (say, $800) on their lodgement fee.
  • If the Tribunal made a decision against the small businessperson the person would retain the right to appeal to a court.

The Inspector-General of Taxation is an office that could probably have its powers extended to include those of a Small Business Tax Tribunal.

We fight for tax fairness against ATO horror stories

In our efforts to have self-employed people treated fairly by the ATO we have provided assistance to several people.

ATO illegally withdraws ABNs

In late 2017 the ATO suddenly withdrew the ABNs of 16 work-from-home, low-income, self-employed people. This immediately destroyed their incomes. It took almost 13 weeks of hard pressure before the ATO backed down.

Here’s the full story.

Rod Douglass Falsely Accused of Fraud 2015-16

Rod was accused by the ATO of tax evasion because he followed ATO advice on the ATO website. We took Rod's case to court where the ATO dropped its allegation.

Here’s Rod's story.


Be Protected!
Self-Employed Australia’s Protected Membership gives you access to $50,000 of professional services to handle your ATO audit.
  • Tax Audit Insurance information here.
  • Protected Member information and joining here.

Scandals in the ATO

The largest tax fraud ever hit the headlines in May 2017. The ATO’s top fraud officer is sacked. The unfolding of the story is as follows:

Related Links

ICA Submission to Parliamentary Tax Office Review of ATO Scrutiny (March 2016)

Inspector General of Taxation; Review into the ATO's Employer Obligations Audits: ICA submission (Dec 2015)

Official report slams ATO discrimination against small business people (March 2015) 

Board of Taxation Review of Australian Tax Office treatment of small business people (February 2015)

ATO's discrimination against independent contractors to stop (January 2015)  

Questions to the Tax Commissioner and his reply (September 2014)

Government major ATO Review-ICA submission (May 2014)

Tax Office doesn't 'get it' (December 2012)



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