Time to renovate

Last year, the ATO embarked on the daunting task of undertaking a review of its public advice and guidance. This includes rulings (income tax, GST, superannuation etc) and other types of guidance (determinations, interpretive decisions, fact sheets, and so on). An initial review of public advice and guidance was conducted by the ATO late last year. This is a priority issue for Second Commissioner Andrew Mills and Chief Tax Counsel Jeremy Hirschhorn, and is a key part of the “reinventing the ATO” project.

As part of the ATO’s greater review on public advice and guidance, The Tax Institute is leading a project to assist the ATO to “triage” its published rulings and guidance and help ensure that the most useful and up-to-date guidance is available to tax advisers and taxpayers. Our involvement forms a significant part of this important ATO initiative. With The Institute in the driving seat, this presents a great opportunity for members to have direct input early on in this review and puts us in an enviable position to positively influence external ATO guidance.

Together with the Chief Tax Counsel, we determined that the first step in this process was to embark on a review of all published taxation rulings that the ATO has issued from 1992 to date.

We have approached all of our members through both TaxVine and our technical committees to assist in identifying and prioritising what rulings should be considered initially. We have been overwhelmed by the response and I would like to thank those of you who have taken the time to pass their thoughts on to us. We encourage you to identify opportunities for reforming ATO public advice and guidance so that we can continue to work proactively with the ATO to help streamline the administration of our tax law.


Stephen Healey CTA is President of the National Council at The Tax Institute.
The Tax Institute is Australia’s leading professional association in tax. Its 13,000 members include tax agents, accountants and lawyers as well as tax practitioners in corporations, government and academia.

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