The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) has issued a report into the ATO’s enforcement of debt recovery. In a press release, the ASBFEO called for the ATO to immediately cease debt recovery action where tax disputes were before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).
The report contains three key conclusions and seven recommendations. The ASBFEO also reminds small business taxpayers in dispute with the ATO of its Small Business Concierge Service, which started on 1 March 2019. This service provides legal assistance for AAT appeals for a limited cost.
The ATO issued a press release outlining its response to the report stating its long standing policy on debt recovery for cases in dispute at the AAT is to only pursue disputed debt in “exceptional circumstances” and that there are only ”very rare cases” (eg in 2017- 18, it took garnishee action against small business in just four cases).
The ATO further stated that it will give consideration to the report’s recommendations while it awaits the Australian National Audit Office’s review of how the ATO manages tax debts for small business.