On  29.11.18, the Assistant Treasurer, announced that the  Government will make it easier, cheaper and quicker for small businesses to resolve tax disputes with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) by:

  •  establishing a Small Business Concierge Service within the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman’s office, to provide support and advice about the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) process before an application is made.
  • establishing ‘Small Business Taxation Division’ within the AAT, with key features including:
    • A case manager supporting them throughout the entire process;
    • A standard application fee of just $500;
    • Fast-tracked decisions to be made within 28 days of a hearing;
    • If the ATO appeals the AAT decision, to the Federal Court, it [presumably the Ombudsman’s office, not the AAT] will pay the small business’ reasonable costs.

This is part of this builds on a series of initiatives designed to support small and medium businesses in Australia, announced by Prime Minister Morrison (on 28.11.18), and recognises that disputes with the ATO are typically stressful and intimidating, taking time away from running their business. The Government saw this as good economic policy, given that there are more than three million small businesses and they employ about seven million Australians, and they need assistance to create a level playing field, with larger businesses.

FJM 10.12.18

[Treasury website: Minister’s Media Release; LTN 231, 29/11/18; Tax Month – November 2018]


CPD questions

  1. Is the Government establishing the ‘Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman’s office’ the only initiative announced?
  2. What will this Ombudsman’s office do?
  3. Where will the ‘Small Business Taxation Division’ be set up?
  4. When does its assistance start?
  5. Will a case manager be assigned, for the whole of the AAT review process?
  6. At present the the standard application fee is $884 – but the application fee, for small business, will be reduced to what amount?
  7. Will the AAT’s decisions be ‘fast tracked’ so that a decision will be made within 28 days of the hearing?
  8. The small business has to bear it’s own costs during this AAT review (like other taxpayers), but does this continue, if the ATO appeals the AAT decision, to the Federal Court?
  9. Will the small business be protected from an award of costs, if it loses in the Federal Court, also?
  10. Do individuals, appealing non-business matters, to the AAT, get the same advantages?


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