Proposed rule change to help small businesses get a fairer deal with the ATO

tax cases, ATO

The government has announced new rules in relation to small businesses that are in dispute with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). The new guidelines, that will give the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) greater powers to pause or change debt recovery actions that apply to a small business engaged in a dispute with the ATO, have been welcomed by the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Bruce Billson.

“Small businesses disputing an ATO debt in the AAT will get a fairer go by stopping the ATO from relentlessly pushing on with debt recovery actions against a small business, while the case is being heard,” Billson said. “I commend the government which has acted quickly to implement a key recommendation in our recently released report: A tax system that works for small business which will allow small businesses to pause ATO debt recovery actions until their case is resolved by the AAT,”

Previously, small businesses have only been able to pause or modify ATO debt recovery actions through the court, a process that is prohibitively expensive and time-consuming. The new guideline has the potential to save small businesses thousands of dollars in legal fees, and mean that they no longer have to wait up to two months for a ruling.

“In line with the recommendations in our report, the AAT will be able to pause or modify any ATO debt recovery actions, such as garnishee notices, interest charges and other penalties until the dispute is resolved by the AAT,” Billson said. “It means that rather than spending time and money fighting in court, small-jn mb fvbusiness owners can get on with what they do best – running and growing their business.”

These proposed changes follow the ATO’s decision to turn its small business independent review service into a permanent offering.

“ASBFEO’s tax concierge service and ongoing advocacy work has led to substantial tax administration improvements for SMEs, with leadership from ATO Deputy Commissioner Small Business Deborah Jenkins and government support,” Billson added. “Collectively, these changes align with ASBFEO’s vision of a tax system that works for the small business sector, so businesses can achieve greater productivity, return to profitability and grow employment.”

Billson encouraged small businesses engaged in a tax dispute to contact his office for assistance on 1300 650 460 or via email at [email protected] .

The new powers will be available to the AAT once the legislation receives Royal Assent.