20th May, 2021
The Government will introduce legislation to allow small businesses to pause or modify ATO debt recovery action where the debt is being disputed in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). Treasurer Josh Frydenberg had earlier announced this measure on 8 May 2021.
Specifically, the changes will allow the Small Business Taxation Division of the AAT to pause or modify any ATO debt recovery actions – such as garnishee notices and the recovery of general interest charge (GIC) or related penalties – until the underlying dispute is resolved by the AAT. This measure is intended to provide an avenue for small businesses to ensure they are not required to start paying a disputed debt until the matter has been determined by the AAT.
Small business entities (including individuals carrying on a business) with an aggregated turnover of less than $10 million per year will be eligible to use the option. The AAT will be required to “have regard to the integrity of the tax system” in deciding whether to pause or modify the ATO’s debt recovery actions.
The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman has welcomed the changes. The Ombudsman, Mr Bruce, stated that small businesses could save “thousands of dollars in legal fees”, as well as up to two months waiting for a ruling. The Ombudsman also noted this measure was a key recommendation in its report A tax system that works for small business.
09th Jun, 2019
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.
05th Apr, 2019
The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) has decided that a property a small business owner used to store materials, tools and other equipment was an active asset for the purpose of the small business capital gains tax (CGT) concessions.
The taxpayer carried on a business of building, bricklaying and paving through a family trust. He owned a block of land used to store work tools, equipment and materials, and to park work vehicles and trailers. There was no business signage on the property.
After the property was sold in October 2016, the ATO issued a private ruling that the taxpayer was not entitled to apply the small business CGT concessions to the capital gain because the property was not an “active business asset”.
However, the AAT concluded that the business use of the land was far from minimal, and more than incidental to carrying on the business. This meant the CGT concessions could be applied.
06th Feb, 2019
The Federal Government intends to make it easier, cheaper and quicker for small businesses to resolve tax disputes with the ATO. It will establish a Small Business Concierge Service within the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman’s office to provide support and advice about the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) process to small businesses before they make an application. The government will also create a dedicated Small Business Taxation Division within the AAT.
12th Sep, 2018
Law Companion Ruling LCR 2018/5, issued by the ATO on 15 August 2018, provides guidance on the First Home Super Saver (FHSS) scheme.
People who meet the eligibility criteria can access the scheme by applying to the ATO for a determination and a release authority. They must make superannuation contributions that are eligible for release under the scheme, namely voluntary concessional or non-concessional contributions that come within the relevant contributions cap.
There are limits on the amounts withdrawn ($15,000 per financial year and $30,000 in total, subject to the contribution caps).
08th Aug, 2017
A pipe fitter has been denied deductions by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) for work-related expenses. The AAT disallowed the claims because the taxpayer was unable to produce adequate documentary evidence.