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Report reveals ATO ‘cash grab’ claims are not sustained

Report reveals ATO ‘cash grab’ claims are not sustained

The independent external report of the ATO has made it “crystal clear” that there were no revenue targets for its debt staff at any time, and no “cash grabs”, the Tax Office said.

  • Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
  • March 15, 2019
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A review of accusations of "cash grabs" and improper staff incentives at the ATO has released its findings. 

The detailed review, spanning several months, resulted in a report of almost 200 pages, which revealed that the accusations were false. 

"In the IGTO’s view, the allegations that there was an ATO direction for a ‘cash grab’ on small businesses or that debt staff’s personal performance were set on amounts collected — are not sustained on the evidence," the acting Inspector-General of Taxation (IGOT) and Taxation Ombudsman Andrew McLoughlin said in the report. 

Notwithstanding this view, opportunities for improvement were identified. As a result, the IGTO made four recommendations, all of which have been accepted and agreed by the ATO.

Responding to the report, commissioner Chris Jordan said the report's finding are "pleasing". 

"It is pleasing to see that the Inspector-General found absolutely no evidence of a culture of antagonism against small businesses or any other type of taxpayer," Mr Jordan said. 

"In their review they found professional, hard-working people following our processes and attempting to do their often difficult job as well as possible."

He said that the ATO's staff use garnishee powers appropriately and infrequently – "only when other debt collection activities have been unsuccessful, and the taxpayer has not engaged with us to find a resolution".

"I acknowledge that the Inspector-General’s report identifies some training requirements and experience shortfalls in one of our offices that may have led to some confusion over a brief period," the commissioner added.

"The report also notes this was identified and rectified by our internal review systems, long before any external airing of concerns, with further training and support provided where it was needed."

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