ATO Ignores Parliamentary Inquiry

final dinoA parliamentary inquiry, set to clamp down the "extraordinary powers of the ATO to hunt down taxpayers," has been dismissed as "counter-productive" by the government.

The current system gives taxpayers few alternatives, as the ATO holds those in dispute "guilty until proven innocent." Litigation battles, often with no proven basis, have cost numerous taxpayers their businesses and livelihoods.

Clayton Utz Tax Partner Niv Tadmore notes that many small businesses would rather "settle an incorrect assessment than face going bankrupt." 

Business owner Joanne Hambrook said her life was"destroyed by the Tax Office." With a legal battle over 15 years, all accusations were later proven "inaccurate and amended."

A parliamentary inquiry was to bring much needed reform into the ATO. Not only did it recommend separating legislative authority with a second commissioner for appeals, it also requested that taxpayers are held innocent until found guilty.

The government ignored the inquiry by saying such changes could result in "sham behaviour of fraud and evasion." 

The real sham is that criminals have more rights under the law than taxpayers wrongly accused by the ATO. Tax lawyer Graeme Halperin notes that "If you are called before the police for a murder investigation, they do not have anything like the powers the Australian Taxation Office has." 

The real sham is taxing individuals and businesses excessively, then falsely accusing them of evasion after already complying with the law. The real sham is forcing small businesses into bankruptcy and refusing compensation after the allegations were proven false.

The only thing that would not be a sham is taking the inquiry into account and seeking to reform the system from within. Until then, it's pretty clear who the real frauds are.





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