The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) works hard to ensure that both individuals and businesses remit the correct amount of tax to the government. Their work ensures that everyone is treated fairly and includes the inspection and gathering of information from various sources to ascertain if everything is in order with your affairs.
ATO audit and dispute resolution
ATO audits can involve large amounts of work and the collection of vast amounts of paperwork which in turn leads to increased stress and a time commitment that many don’t have. That’s where we step in. At Fortuna, our team is experienced in dealing with ATO audits and possess the necessary skill and knowledge to help keep the process hassle-free and time-efficient for you or your business.
What’s involved in an audit?
As mentioned above, an ATO audit (or review) would involve the regulatory body looking into your tax affairs to identify whether the information you supplied is true, accurate and in compliance with your tax obligations. Below is the step-by-step process you may undergo during an audit.
- To begin with, you would receive a letter (notice) from the ATO either through our office or mailed directly to you. The letter would advise you of an audit and outline the information the ATO requires.
– If the letter is mailed directly to you, the next step would be to send a copy through to us at your earliest.
- After receiving the notice, we would review it and discuss the information requirements and expected timeframes.
- Usually, the ATO requires information and straight forward documents which do not pose much of an issue during an audit. We deal with the matter for you and ensure the audit is finalised at the earliest. In most situations the ATO may accept the information given and the process would end there.
- Considering findings from various initiatives such as the Banking Royal Commission; the ATO has begun conducting more complex audits and using sophisticated internal detection systems to identify businesses that display unusual behaviour with their tax obligations.
- In the case that the audit involves a higher degree of complexity, the Fortuna team can communicate with the ATO and provide more information and clarifications. Audits can be time consuming and often quite stressful for clients. This is where we try to ease this stress as much as possible by liaising on your behalf and simplifying technicalities for your understanding.
What the ATO expects of you
- The ATO expects you to be co-operative and forthcoming with the information they require.
- They expect timely and accurate responses to their requests for information.
- Finally, the ATO expects truthfulness and honesty in our interactions with them.
What if we don’t agree with the ATO’s audit assessment?
Sometimes the ATO can get it wrong even after supplying them with all the information requested in an audit. In such cases we can discuss with you whether it would be advisable to lodge a formal objection or not.
Lodging a formal objection would be more of a complicated procedure as it would involve giving adequate reasoning based on law as to why we believe the ATO may have been incorrect in their initial audit assessment.
This objection process ideally involves supplying the ATO with further details and explanations grounded in the sections of income tax legislation, comparisons with case law and ATO rulings in support of our notion against their assessment. This involves extensive research and may become a tedious exercise, depending on the complexity of the case.
If the formal objection review is unfavourable, we can progress it further to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal which acts as an arbiter between clients and the ATO. If and when the issue reaches this stage, we will take adequate care to counsel you accordingly.
How can we help avoid an audit in the first place?
We offer tax & financial planning advice throughout the year to mitigate the risk of an ATO audit and help ensure that you consistently meet your tax obligations every quarter. Using proven strategies, we equip and empower you to make the most of your finances while meeting your tax obligations.
We also suggest taking audit insurance to our clients. This often covers a great deal of the costs involved should you need assistance with a complex case.
What’s the next step?
Give us a call to arrange a meeting. With our complimentary consultations for new clients, we can sit down with you and discuss your situation and possible options.