Talk to the Inspector-General, not the Ombudsman!
The way in which people complain about the Tax Office and the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) has changed as from May 1, 2015.
Most tax complaints will need to be directed to the Inspector-General of Taxation.
Tax complaints – old process
The previous arrangements saw individual complaints from taxpayers who were dissatisfied with their specific interactions with the Tax Office or the TPB handled by the Ombudsman’s office. The role of the Inspector-General of Taxation (IGT) was to deal only with systemic issues in relation to tax administration.
The Ombudsman will continue to receive complaints concerning public interest disclosures or freedom of information issues about the Tax Office or TPB.
An organised solution for tax issues
The incumbent Inspector-General, Ali Noroozi, said:
“As an independent and dedicated scrutineer of the ATO for the past 12 years, my specialist tax staff are well-placed to help taxpayers and tax practitioners address their individual issues with the ATO or TPB. We will consider all complaints, from the simple to the complex, including those arising during audits, objections and litigation.”
Commonwealth Ombudsman Colin Neave said he would work with the IGT to minimise confusion or inconvenience to taxpayers, and that arrangements for the transfer of the function were in place.
More efficient resolution of tax issues
There are potential benefits to the transfer of responsibilities, if it results in more efficient resolution of tax issues being dealt with from a single office.
Although individual complaints and systemic issue reviews are two separate functions, they are not mutually exclusive,” said Letty Tsoi, tax specialist at Taxpayers Australia. “Systemic problems arise from a large number of individual issues of the same nature; and on the other hand, systemic problems lead to many taxpayers experiencing the same issue individually.”
Tsoi says information sharing with the office of the IGT across the two functions can benefit both.
However, the government must ensure ongoing allocation of sufficient staffing and financial resources to the office of the IGT so that it can properly serve the purposes of each of the two functions,” she said. “The transfer should not result in stretching scarce resources to the detriment of the taxpayer community.”