All is not lost if the ATO has issued a tax assessment and you believe that they have got it wrong because you are able to dispute the assessment by lodging an objection if you have grounds. We have set out below everything you need to know about preparing a tax objection.
You can dispute a default assessment or an audit decision if you have grounds for an objection.
In relation to a tax audit you will have received a “Reasons for Decision” from the ATO. Read this very carefully. You can then decide whether you have grounds to dispute the amended tax assessment.
Grounds for an objection to your tax assessment usually fall into distinct categories: facts and whether tax law has been applied correctly. In many instances the grounds may be a combination of both facts and tax law.
The starting place is to consider whether the facts are wrong. If the facts are wrong, then you have good grounds for objecting.
The facts include your personal details and/or the value of a particular transaction which gave rise to the disputed tax. You should keep in mind that you will have to prove that the facts are wrong and be able to provide the necessary evidence to show this. It is therefore critical that you include supporting evidence when submitting an objection. It is also helpful if you are able to include evidence from independent sources such as bank statements etc.
This makes your objection stronger and gives it credibility.
Has the ATO applied tax law correctly?
If you have limited knowledge of tax law you should engage a tax practitioner to analyse whether the ATO has applied the tax law correctly to the facts.
If you are disputing penalties, you should explain why you consider the penalties are not justified or should be reduced.
The ATO considers:
If you believe that you were misled by your accountant then there are also ‘safe harbour’ provisions that may apply to reduce the penalty.
Throughout this process, presenting evidence that supports your viewpoint is essential.
The time period in which you should lodge your tax objection is generally between 60 days and 4 years.
In exceptional circumstances it is possible to apply for an extension beyond the standard time periods.
Once the objection has been lodged, patience is key. The Commissioner has the responsibility to decide, however this process takes time. In cases where a decision is not reached within 60 days, a notice can be sent to expedite the process. It is not advisable to send a notice to the Commissioner to make a decision as this may automatically result in the Commissioner make a negative or adverse decision
If the Commissioner fails to decide, the objection is not accepted, and the original decision or assessment stands without any changes based on the objection. However, if the Commissioner has made a decision, you will be sent a notice of amended assessment.
If the ATO rejects your objection then you can appeal the unfavourable decision at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) or the Federal Court.
This is an expensive exercise and, depending on the amount of tax in dispute, may not be cost effective.
At Waterhouse Lawyers, we understand the complexities of challenging ATO decisions. Our experienced tax lawyers are here to help, ensuring that your objections are thoroughly prepared. With our guidance, you can navigate the objection process effectively, protecting your interests and minimising unnecessary hardships.
Reach out via email email@example.com, or phone (02) 9252 8746.