Taxing Issues

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The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman today said that it is great to see the Independent Review facility that the Australian Taxation Office has afforded for so long to large business being extended now to small businesses with tax problems.

“Since 2013, the ATO has offered a case review service to large business before it issues an assessment. This allows all parties to have a better understanding of the issues and reach an appropriate resolution,” Ms Carnell said.

“It is pleasing to see that the ATO has recognised that the service provided to large business can be a real help for small businesses with tax issues too. The fact that small business will now have an independent area of the ATO to consider matters afresh is an important step and one that we will watch to see whether it provides for informal discussion of issues in a way that avoids formal legal routes.

“We encourage the ATO as part of the project to let small businesses know that there are a range of other people who can help with their tax issues, such as the Inspector General of Taxation and our Office. This is critical when things don’t go well,” Ms Carnell said.

“You need to remember that when small business does its tax, it is highly reliant on trusted advisors, mostly accountants. Getting a call from the ATO saying that there’s a problem is a big shock and extremely stressful.

The Ombudsman says approaches like the Independent Review are critical for small business – even more so than for big business – as people’s own houses are on the line.

“The ATO should be commended for extending the Independent Review to small businesses and we look forward to the pilot’s review and wider implementation.”

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