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Agenda 2020: Reform the ATO

SEA has a long involvement with the Australian Taxation Office going back to our formation in 2000. The evidence is that the ATO abuses self-employed small business people. We have campaigned to expose this. The ATO must be reformed to stop this abuse.

In 2020 we are campaigning for major reforms to the ATO modelled on the Taxpayer Rights laws covering the USA Internal Revenue Service.

On this campaign summary page you will find:

A template for ATO reform
Creating justice in ATO Administration
ATO abuse of self-employed small business—evidence
Corruption in the ATO?
History of SEA tax campaigning

A Template for ATO Reform

YouTube video explaining the reforms (20 minutes)









Full research document (50 pages) on IRS v ATO – A reform template

One-page overview of recommended reforms

Creating justice in ATO Administration

In 2017-18 we called for major reform of the ATO. In March 2019 we had the first major success with the creation of the Small Business Tax Tribunal.

In 2020 we are calling for much bigger ATO reform based on the USA model of Taxpayer Rights laws.

Reform the ATO”, says Senator. An important speech! [December 2019]

US Congress and Trump agree. Discipline the IRS to prevent taxpayer abuse. Message for Australia – Taxpayer First Act [July 2019]

SEA Executive Director spends two weeks in Washington researching USA tax admin laws [October 2019]

Watch these YouTube reports from Washington:




Small Business Tax Tribunal

We launched campaign for Small Business Tax Tribunal [5 February 2017]

The government launched the new Tribunal [1 March 2019]
Two key documents:
Key Features:
  • External to, and independent of, the ATO.
  • Small business people can trigger a referral at any time.
  • The ATO will not enforce a debt while a matter is before the SBTT
  • The ATO will not ordinarily use external lawyers.
  • A decision within 28 days of a hearing.
  • If ATO appeals a decision, ATO will fund the small business person’s lawyers.

We call for major ATO Reform

SEA report: The Power to Audit is the Power to Destroy [April 2018]

ATO abuse of self-employed small business—evidence

In 2018 and into 2019 there was huge media exposure and official reports giving evidence of ATO abuse of power.

Tax Commissioner's gobsmacking Senate statement [October 2019]

We ask MPs: ‘Stop this ATO bully boy tax Bill’ – Phoenix Bill
[July 2019]

Small Business Ombudsman Slams ATO [April 2019]

Small Business Ombudsman severely criticizes ATO. Calls for legislative reform over ATO tax debt behaviour.

Media release

Key Parliamentary Tax Committee blasts ATO [February 2019]

China and the ATO – Dictatorship vs the Rule of Law
[February 2019]

ATO Executive ‘Not Guilty’– Credible evidence that ATO audits are ‘wrong’ and abusive
[February 2019]

We give evidence to Senate hearing (June 2018)

ATO unfair says ATO report (2 August 2018)

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

ATO responds to Four Corners (June 2018)

Four CornersMongrel 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.

  • Exposing the truth.
  • Media coverage.

  • 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.

    The Rod Douglass  Case

    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.


    The Michael Shord Case

    Corruption in the ATO?

    ATO refuses internal corruption probe. Anti-Corruption Commission needed (January 2019)

    September 2018: we release our major research project "ATO Rules For The Rich".  We call for a high level investigation into whether the ATO suffers from internal corruption.

    Summary is here.
    Full report is here
    Losses calculation is here (SEA member access)
    Source references are here (SEA member access)

    History of SEA tax campaigning

    Submission to Treasury on Australian Business Numbers [November 2018]

    Submission to Treasury on Director Identification Numbers [October 2018]

    Submission to House Tax and Revenue Committee [October 2018]

    We oppose expansion of ATO power [16 August 2018]

    Reforming the ATO: The Power to Audit is the Power to Destroy [April 2018]

    Submission to the Draft Treasury Laws Amendment (Tax 3 Transparency) Bill 2018: Transparency of taxation debts [February 2018]

    Big review of ATO [June 2017]

    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 [December 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]

    ICA submission to Board of Taxation Review [May 2014]

    Tax Office doesn't 'get it' [December 2012]

    ATO fails to apply PSI laws: Case Study [July 2012]

    Can Canada increase entrepreneurship?
    [January 2011]

    Bill Shorten says 'no change' to PSI [October 2010]

    Statement from Abbott opposition on PSI [June 2010]

    Tax Burden: UK versus Australia [June 2010]

    Important Federal Court decision: ATO, PSI, Results test for companies and trusts [December 2007]


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