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Thank goodness. Morrison Government is DOING, rather than just promising, ATO reform

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Usually, in the lead-up to elections, governments make all sort of promises in the hope that this will give them favour with the electorate. But we’re delighted to report that with small business tax reform the Morrison government is delivering, not simply talking.

Today the government announced that the Small Business Tax Tribunal will start up on the 1 March 2019—just two weeks away. This is huge. We continue to see bad ATO small business audits and an ATO incapable of quickly fixing glaring audit errors. It’s an audit system of considerable incompetence, with small business people the victims.

It’s fabulous to see the government responding quickly and with a practical solution to start up immediately. In other words, this is not just an election stunt—it’s real reform.

The key features of the reform already known include:
1. Tax concierge service through the Small Business Ombudsman.

2. 10 tax clinics through Universities to assist small business people.

3. ****A dedicated Small Business Tax Tribunal (SBTT) operating within the AAT. The SBTT will:
  • Be totally separate from ATO.
  • Generally NOT involve lawyers.
  • Appoint a case manager to support the taxpayer.
  • Make decisions within 28 days of a hearing.
  • Require a payment of $500 from the taxpayer for each appeal.
Today’s announcement supplies some additional information:
  • ABN cancellations will be appealable to the SBTT. This gives us an independent review process for the first time.
  • If the ATO uses lawyers, the ATO must pay for the self-employed person to have ‘equivalent legal representation’. This is important because it balances the overriding power/resources of the ATO.
We entirely endorse and congratulate the Morrison Government on the decision to set up the Small Business Tax Tribunal immediately. This is a huge plus for self-employed, small business people.

Details of our campaigning and the history and issues related to the ATO’s treatment of small business people are here.

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