Dispute Assist – a new service initiative by the Australian Taxation Office providing tailored assistance to unrepresented individual taxpayers.

Cameron Grant1, Ratka Markovska2, Benjamin de Santis3, James Pittar4

1 Australian Taxation Office, cameron.grant@ato.gov.au 

2 Australian Taxation Office, ratka.markovska@ato.gov.au 

3 Australian Taxation Office, benjamin.desantis@ato.gov.au

4 Australian Taxation Office, james.pittar@ato.gov.au

Introducing Dispute Assist – a new service initiative by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) providing tailored assistance to unrepresented individual taxpayers (Clients).

There are many reasons why Clients find themselves in dispute unrepresented. These can include, but are not limited to: relationship breakdowns, illness (including mental health difficulties) and sudden disability within the family.

These can all greatly affect a Client’s ability to manage their dispute, and are often the catalyst for a sudden drop in compliance with taxation obligations.

This financial year the ATO will be conducting a pilot program where Dispute Assist officers (Guides) will support Clients through ATO dispute processes.

The Guides are not decision makers with respect to a Client dispute; rather, their primary objective is to support Clients in achieving resolution of the dispute in a way that is:

  • Accessible;
  • Fair,
  • Proportionate to the importance and complexity of the dispute; and
  • Promotes public trust and confidence in the decision-making of the ATO.

In congruence with this approach, the Guides will observe the following guiding principles:

  • Connect Clients with the right people so their dispute can be resolved as early as possible;
  • Ensure that all available options to resolve the matter have been explored (including payment options);
  • Provide assurance that the process has been as fair as it can be; and
  • Ensure Clients are aware of their review rights if still dissatisfied with the decision.

Cameron Grant is an Executive Director within the Review and Dispute Resolution area of the Australian Taxation Office, currently responsible for disputes in the Individuals market. Cameron also leads the Dispute Assist project, is a case and technical leader, and an ATO facilitator resolving disputes as part of the ATO’s in-house facilitation service. Cameron graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce in 1996, and a Bachelor of Laws in 2003, both from La Trobe University.

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