Rights of Australian Tax Payers

4 min read

The ATO expects every taxpayer to comply with their tax obligations but the relationship between you and the ATO is a two way street and you’re also entitled to certain rights in your dealings with the taxman.

The ATO has published a Taxpayers Charter which sets out every taxpayer’s rights and entitlements under the law, and the service and other standards that can be expected from the ATO. There is an expectation that all tax officers will follow the Taxpayers Charter in their dealings with taxpayers.

What you can expect from the ATO

As set out in the Charter, you can expect the Tax Office to:

  • treat you fairly and reasonably
  • treat you as being honest in your tax affairs unless you act otherwise
  • offer you professional service and assistance to help you understand and meet your tax obligations
  • accept that you can be represented by a person of your choice and to get advice about your tax affairs
  • respect your privacy
  • keep information held about you confidential, in accordance with the law
  • give you access to information held about you, in accordance with the law
  • give you advice and information that you can rely on
  • explain to you the decisions it makes about your tax affairs
  • respect your right to a review
  • respect your right to make a complaint
  • administer the tax system in a way that minimises your costs of compliance, and
  • be accountable for what it does.

Your right to privacy

The ATO collects lots of information about you and also has access to additional information supplied from third parties. It has an obligation to keep that information confidential.
The law allows the ATO to disclose certain information to others for specific purposes, such as to determine eligibility for government benefits. If the ATO does anything to compromise your privacy or confidentiality, you can complain to the ATO or to the Privacy Commissioner.

You also have a right to access the information the ATO holds about you.

The Freedom of Information Act gives you that right. You can also access the documents that may have helped the Tax Office come to a decision about your tax situation, such as public rulings and Tax Office guidelines. Under the Act, you also have the right to correct information that you believe is incomplete, incorrect, out of date or misleading.

The disclosure of certain documents may not be possible, as some are exempt from the Freedom of Information Act, such as information that "could reasonably be expected to prejudice an investigation" or that would necessarily involve disclosing information about someone else.

If you need to make a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act, you have to make it in writing to the ATO and there may be a fee.


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