If you disagree with an ATO decision
If you disagree with an Australian Tax Office (ATO) decision you have a right to object and have the decision reviewed. There are time limits that apply in making a request for review and these will differ depending on the type of tax or situation.
If you think that a mistake has been made with your tax assessment you can request an amendment. You will need to write to the Australian Tax Office (ATO) requesting an amendment and explaining what you think is incorrect and why.
Generally, a request for amendment must be lodged within two years of the date the assessment was made.
If the ATO make the decision not to amend your assessment you can lodge an objection to the original assessment. There will be a time limit for lodging an objection.
An Objection Form is available from the ATO website. It can be lodged by fax, post or at any ATO office. If you decide not to use a form you need to ensure that all the relevant information is included in your letter, along with any supporting documents.
Your objection must:
- be in writing
- be signed and dated
- contain a declaration that the information provided in the objection and supporting documentation is true and correct
- include full details of why you think the decision is wrong
Further information about preparing an objection can be found in the ATO’s Objection Guide which is available on their website.
If you are unsatisfied with the ATO’s decision you can request an independent, external review of the decision with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) or the Federal Court or Federal Circuit Court.
A hearing at the AAT is less formal than a court hearing. You can represent yourself in person or have someone to represent you. You need to lodge the request for review in writing directly to the AAT (see contact details below under ‘Services’). There is a time limit in which you must lodge your application and there will be an application fee payable to the Tribunal. This fee can be waived on the basis of financial hardship and a form for this is available.
If you are dissatisfied with the decision of the AAT you may be eligible to appeal to the Federal Court, however, this will only be in the event that there is an issue of law arising from the AAT’s decision.
Small Taxation Claims Tribunal
The Small Taxation Claims Tribunal is part of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and provides a quick and inexpensive means of independent, external review for claims where the amount in dispute is less than $5000.
Application forms and further information can be found on the AAT’s website.
You can bypass the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and go directly to the Federal Court if you wish. There will be a variety of fees involved, for example, filing fee, setting down fee and daily hearing fee and you must follow the Federal Court Rules. You can represent yourself or be represented by a lawyer.
Compensation for financial loss
If you believe the ATO’s actions have directly caused you to suffer financial loss you may be entitled to compensation. The ATO has a compensation assistance line on 1800 005 172.
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.