Posted May 18, 2019 05:13:54The Government’s decision to turn over tax forms to the Australian Taxation Office is a major blow to taxpayers.
Taxpayers can now use the government’s own data to use against them, as the Government uses tax data to identify Australians with higher tax bills.
Key points:The Tax Office has a range of tools to investigate your tax returnAs the Government has not been able to prove that any of the tax forms they’ve handed over to the ATO were genuine, taxpayers have no recourseThe ATO will then turn over the information to the AFP as part of a wider investigationThe ATA is expected to use this information to pursue criminal investigationsThe Government has made the decision to hand over tax information to an independent body which will investigate taxpayers’ claims.
“We want to get the facts and provide an appropriate resolution to the matter,” the Government said in a statement.
“Taxpayers should be able to have confidence that their tax returns are being looked after and their claims are being properly scrutinised.”
What are the issues?
The Government says that information will be used to identify individuals with higher taxation bills.
“To that end, the ATA will use the data it receives to examine individuals with a higher tax bill to assess whether their tax liability has been affected by the tax return,” the statement said.
“The ATAC is a Government body which operates in partnership with the Australian Federal Police.”
What you need to know about tax disputesThe ATOA’s powers include the ability to seize tax returns and examine documents, but it can also use this data to pursue investigations.
If the ATOA is satisfied there is a tax issue with your tax returns, the Government can ask for information on your tax liability.
“If the investigation has uncovered evidence of a tax claim being made with respect to which you have no claim, you may be able apply for a refund,” the government said.
The ATOC has also said it has obtained warrants to access tax data held by the ATOS.
The AFP will then be required to produce information from tax returns in accordance with the law, and if the ATOC’s investigation is successful, the information will then go to the Attorney-General for processing.
The Privacy Act does not apply to the information the ATAC will have access to, the government has said.
What the Government is saying:Taxpayer groups are calling for the Government to be more transparent about how this data will be processed.
“In a free market system, taxpayers would be entitled to know how their tax information would be used and how the Government’s data collection and analysis was used to support its public policies,” said Chris White, a lawyer with the Public Interest Legal Centre.
“They would also have the right to access the information as a matter of right, and the right not to be made a victim of a massive and intrusive public access operation.”
What else is happening:The ATACA has previously said it would review all of the information it has collected from tax return applications.
“This is the third time the ATACA will have had to review and update the data provided by ATO, and there will be a review of the data once again in 2020,” the ATAT said in April.
“A full public inquiry will be conducted by the Privacy Commissioner, who is also the head of the ATTA, and will include an assessment of how the ATAA is being used.”
The Government did not respond to questions about the details of the review or how long it will take to complete.