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5 steps to a successful tax objection

If you came here just to get a template or sample tax objection form to use – click here.

If you are interested in learning more about the process and how to do an objection, please read on.

If the ATO has made a decision you are unhappy with, you may have the right to object.  It will generally tell you so on the letter.

If you are planning to object, here are some tips I’ve picked up over the years:

1.  Get the facts

Read their decision again and underline the factual points they make that are wrong and make a note of these.  The facts are the easiest points to prove are wrong.  For example, they might say you were working 5 days a week when in fact you only work 3 days.  Keep a list of these facts.

2.  Consider the implications of these facts

Think about the tax outcome from the facts being incorrect.  For example, if they say you made sales you didn’t, then obviously that will mean you have a lower tax bill.  However, if they say you made less sales than you actually did, then you will essentially be saying they under-taxed you.  Think through the ramifications of the facts that are wrong.

Also consider their relevance.  Sometimes bringing up errors that are inconsequential can hurt your case because the objection officer will quickly form the view that, whilst there may have been factual errors, none of them affect the outcome.  List the facts in order of relevance to the outcome.  If you have a list of other grievances you want to raise, feel free to raise those but do so in the end and make sure you set out a reason for doing so – for example, you may say the auditor did not take the time to consider all the facts which is demonstrated by the behavior you are raising.  Keep it relevant.

3. Remember how you got here & remember your audience

Its easy to blame the auditor (or the original decision maker) as a bad egg and that they didn’t understand you, just got it wrong or perhaps they were a terrible person. 

Whilst there might be merit in this view, at the end of the day you are still dealing with the same organization – the ATO.  The objections officer will be inclined to side with the auditor who is from the same organization rather than you.  Its nothing personal against you, its just they don’t know you at all so will be more inclined to follow the viewpoint of one of their colleagues than yours.

As such, think about what it was specifically that occurred during the audit process or de-railed the original decision and make sure that doesn’t happen again.

4. Consider your strategy

You won’t know initially where this is going to end up.  If you are unhappy with the objection officer’s decision you will need to go to Court or the Tribunal.  Ideally you should set it up for a Tribunal hearing because that will put pressure on the objections officer to consider the matter more carefully.

The best way to do this is to have an overall strategy.  The objective of the strategy is to get the outcome you want, whether it is a lower tax bill or overturning an unfavourable decision.  Think about what the elements are that are necessary to achieve this strategy. 

Don’t make it easy for them to reject you.

5. Include all your grounds

As a technical rule you need to include all the grounds of your objection.  To do this you will need to identify the key issues that make up your argument.

Steps 1 – 4 should help you do this. 

This website does have a tax objection template you can use which serves as a good example of how to set out an objection. 

Alternatively, we would be happy to help or discuss with you if you would like.  Please feel free to call me on my direct line 02 7200 8201 or email me personally at adam@adamahmed.com.au

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