Individuals hard working Australians RFI

Private Requester made this Freedom of Information request to Australian Taxation Office

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was partially successful.

Private Requester

Dear Australian Taxation Office,

Can you please provide visibility of how your system calculates debts more specifically for people on low income and why the government is targeting these people rather than businesses. The general public has the right to know this extortion from financially disadvantaged individuals constitutes unjust enrichment.

Yours faithfully,

Private Requester

General Counsel Requests, Australian Taxation Office

Dear Private Requester

Thank you for your email.

The documents that set out the rates at which taxation is payable by individuals and other kinds of entities, including by individuals in different income brackets, are the various Commonwealth taxation laws (both Acts and Regulations).

You can find these freely available on the ATO website ( They are also available on the Federal Register of Legislation (

As legislation is material maintained for reference purposes that is publicly available, it is not a 'document' for the purposes of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (see the definition of 'document' in section 4 of the FOI Act). This means that you cannot request access to copies of the legislation under section 15 of the FOI Act 1982, and the ATO will not be treating your email as a valid FOI request.

You may also find it helpful to view information about tax rates on the ATO website, at

FOI Team
Australian Taxation Office

show quoted sections

Private Requester

Dear General Counsel Requests,

You misunderstood the request for information.
To clarify I do have access to legislation and rates however I’m requesting whether there is a system that the ATO uses to calculate debts following tax return requests. I would have to be more specific the Robodebt that Centrelink introduced few years ago.
I’m seeking a simple justification on how your systems operates I think the ATO owes it to the public to have visibility to disclose this info in line with straight line accounting standards.
As the allocation of the tax collected from low income earners for unnecessary infrastructure projects due to Govt poor planning I think it’s fair for the public to have some visibility on your ethical methodologies and systems.

Yours sincerely,

Private Requester

General Counsel Requests, Australian Taxation Office

Dear Private Requester

Thank you for your email.  As you are seeking information rather than
documents, we are replying with further information to assist you rather
than making an FOI original decision or FOI internal review decision. 
Furthermore, the relevant information we can provide is publicly available
information for which an FOI request is not needed.

You have asked for information about whether there is a system the ATO
uses to calculate debts after a person lodges their income tax return.

Information on the ATO website explains that:

'You may receive a tax bill if you:
•       are an employee and enough tax hasn't been withheld from the
payments made to you by your employer
•       are a sole trader and haven't paid enough tax to the ATO
throughout the year
•       receive other income where no tax was withheld.'

In other words, a tax debt occurs where the tax a person has already paid
during the year (usually by withholding from payments made by an employer
or other payer) is less than the tax payable by the person on their
taxable income for that year.  The tax payable by a person is calculated
in accordance with taxation law, in particular with the legislated tax
rates for different income brackets.  ATO systems are programmed to make
these calculations in accordance with that legislation. This information
is explained on the ATO website.


ATO website information also explains what happens if a person does not
pay their tax bill on time.


You mentioned that you have the income tax rates, but there is also
information about these on our website at the following page.


You also referred to how tax revenue is spent.  Our website explains that
taxpayers who lodge an income tax return and receive a notice of
assessment including assessed income tax of $100 or more for the year are
issued with a 'tax receipt'.  A tax receipt contains a table showing how
the taxpayer's taxes have been allocated to key categories of government
expenditure. The tax receipt also includes information on the level of
Australian Government gross debt for the current and previous years. This
is to increase transparency on how the government spends taxpayers'
money.  More information is on our website at the following link.


I hope that this information is of assistance to you.  You might also find
other information on the website of interest.  The ATO has information
about all aspects of taxation obligations on our website, including all
taxation laws, and many rulings and practice statements that explain the
application of taxation laws.

FOI Team
Australian Taxation Office

show quoted sections