Audit procedures etc

Benny Oates made this Freedom of Information request to Australian Taxation Office

The request was refused by Australian Taxation Office.

From: Benny Oates

Delivered

Dear Australian Taxation Office,

The Four Corners program "Mongrel bunch of bastards" refers to the following cases:
1. Cancellation of ABNs of contractors of "Outscribe"
2. Audit of R&D offsets of Mark Freeman
3. GST audit of Peter Fortunatow
4. Audit of Helen Petaia (R&D)

Please provide the checklists, audit manuals or similar used by ATO case officers to conduct cases of these kinds. I am not seeking taxpayer-specific information.

Yours faithfully,

Benny Oates

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From: FOI
Australian Taxation Office


Attachment Ack.pdf
29K Download View as HTML


Dear FOI Applicant,
 
Please see attachment.
 
 
Yours faithfully,
 
FOI Team
 
 
 
 
 

show quoted sections

Link to this

From: FOI
Australian Taxation Office


Attachment Decision.pdf
51K Download View as HTML


Dear FOI Applicant,
 
Please see attachment.
Yours faithfully,
 
FOI Team
 
 
 
 
 

show quoted sections

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From: Benny Oates

Delivered

Dear Australian Taxation Office,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Australian Taxation Office's handling of my FOI request 'Audit procedures etc'.

A distinction should be drawn between
(1) documents which assist officers to identify possible deficiencies in a taxpayer's assessment; and
(2) documents which assist officers (after they have identified that a deficiency may exist in a taxpayer's assessment) to ensure they have considered and correctly applied every element of the relevant legislation.

Documents in the first category could be covered by s 47E on the basis that knowledge of the ATO's methods for identifying deficiencies would allow taxpayers to avoid detection. However, documents in the second category do not confer any such advantages on a taxpayer. Documents in the second category constitute the fruits of the intellectual labour of reading the legislation and distilling from it practical insights, as well as being the product of years or decades of ATO experience in administering the legislation. They are informative for taxpayers wishing to understand the law, and allow members of the public to scrutinise the extent of the controls in place to make ATO decisions consistent and correct.

Documents in the second category are likely to be (at least in part) 'operational information' for the purposes of the FOI Act. However, the ATO's operational information as published on its website do not include anything beyond the bare text of the legislation and public rulings themselves. There is nothing that would ensure that an auditor had not, for example, conflated their role and AusIndustry's by reviewing whether an activity constitutes R&D instead of merely reviewing whether the expenditure related to that activity. One would imagine that an agency like the ATO would have checklists for R&D auditors to highlight common issues like this and ensure that the proposed decision was correct. One would imagine that unfavourable quality assurance results and allowed objections would be 'fed back' to the general body of auditors to ensure that insights were shared and that mistakes were not repeated.

The purpose of this FOI request is to provide assurance to the Australian people that the officers involved in the cases described in the Four Corners program did have the benefit of guidance material. Since the decisions were subsequently overturned, and therefore must have been wrong, it should be made clear to the Australian people that the officers disregarded the guidance material or that the guidance material was subsequently revised to prevent future reoccurrences.

In the absence of this assurance, it is open to a member of the public to conclude that ATO R&D auditors individually 'do their own thing', do not learn from each other's mistakes, and do not receive the support necessary to administer complex legislation, making errors and abuses likely to continue into the future.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/a...

Yours faithfully,

Benny Oates

Link to this

From: FOI
Australian Taxation Office


Attachment IR Ack.pdf
29K Download View as HTML


Dear FOI Applicant,
 
Please see attachment.
 
Yours faithfully,
 
FOI Team
 
 

show quoted sections

Link to this

From: FOI
Australian Taxation Office


Attachment Decision.pdf
16K Download View as HTML


 
Dear FOI Applicant,
 
Please see attachment.
 
 
 
Yours faithfully,
 
FOI Team
 
 

show quoted sections

Link to this

Ms R&D left an annotation ()

I have attempted to obtain similar docs and also was refused. There is a specific team of R&D auditors but in some cases random auditors with no R&D experience are used. This information is very important for all the reasons outlined by Mr Oates to ensure mistakes are not repeated and inadvertent undermining of the Ausindustry determination of R&D activities is not disrupted by inexperienced ATO auditors.

Your line of inquiry Mr Oates is excellent and accurate.Please persist.

Ms R&D

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Benny Oates left an annotation ()

I requested an IC review.

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Things to do with this request

Anyone:
Australian Taxation Office only: