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Small businesses urged to contribute to ATO inquiry

Accountants have been called on to advise their small business clients to contact the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman and the Inspector-General of Taxation if they have experienced heavy-handed tactics by the ATO.

Small businesses urged to contribute to ATO inquiry
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As part of an inquiry into the ATO following last week's media reports, ASBFEO Kate Carnell has called on small business owners to aid in investigations by coming forward over the next two weeks if they have experienced unfair conduct.

“Under the direction of Treasury, my office and the Inspector-General of Taxation, Ali Noroozi, will examine cases of unfair conduct by the ATO,” said Ms Carnell.

“My office is interested in examples where the ATO has targeted small businesses unfairly and the business owner has been affected financially.

“According to the ATO’s latest annual report, there are 3.8 million small business taxpayers, including sole traders, in the tax system. The Inspector-General says in roughly 5 per cent of cases, the ATO gets it wrong … which on the face of it is way too many,” she added.

“We want to gain a better understanding of how the ATO is adversely interacting with small businesses so we can provide government with constructive and realistic advice.”

The Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) had earlier called for the government to look into the ATO’s governance and culture to help rebuild the trust in the tax office.

“The model of governance is out-dated and in desperate need of reform,” said IPA chief executive Andrew Conway.

“There is a need for a process to identify and resolve problems quickly and transparently. There is also a need for greater transparency about the policy objective of the tax laws.

“The time has come for an updated structure, in line with the other peak regulatory agencies in Australia, including ASIC and the ACCC which have the benefits of a deeper structure, providing greater accountability and transparency.”

Small business owners can explain their situation under anonymity to the ASBFEO by emailing [email protected].

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