Following a multi-year pilot and consultation period, a small business taxation dispute resolution service that’s been offered by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has now been made permanent.
The ATO’s small business independent review service began as a pilot program in 2018 and has reportedly been used by over 180 businesses of the 1,200 it was offered to.
Small businesses with an annual turnover of under $10 million are eligible to apply for the service, which can assist in a range of disputes with the ATO: income tax, GST, excise, luxury car tax, wine equalisation tax, and fuel tax credits.
The ATO points out, however, that the review service is not available for employer obligation disputes such as fringe benefits tax and superannuation.
An independent review is conducted by an officer from the ATO’s Review and Dispute Resolution area – an individual who has not had any prior involvement in the audit. The officer is to provide a fresh perspective, focus on the applicant’s areas of disagreement, and maintain independence throughout.
The ATO’s Deputy Commissioner, Jeremy Geale, said the service offers a cost-effective and time-efficient way for small businesses to tackle disputes. He also said that the ATO has seen positive feedback from the businesses that have taken part thus far.
“Independence is critical when handling a dispute, so we ensure each and every independent review is done by an officer from a different part of the ATO who was not involved in the original audit,” Mr Geale said.
“Small businesses who participated in our pilot told us they found the process to be fair and independent, irrespective of the independent review outcome, so this is a great result, and is a big part of why we are locking this service in permanently.”
More details on eligibility and the application process can be found on the ATO website.