Dealing with an ATO audit or dispute as a small business owner can have a devastating impact on both yourself and your business. Often, payments are expected within thirty days and, even if you do decide to object, you may owe half the amount up front. Objections are stressful and can require considerable time and expense, upwards of months or even years — and regularly alongside thousands (or tens of thousands) of dollars. Unfortunately, even after objecting, things may still not end favorably.
It’s no wonder that it has become devastatingly common for many to not even bother with trying to challenge the assessment. However, it seems that things may finally be looking up for small business owners initiating tax disputes. Beginning on 1 March 2019, there is a new service and a new division aimed at assisting small business owners wishing to address their tax disputes.
The Small Business Concierge Service
The new service changing the way that small business owners address their disputes is known as the Small Business Concierge Service delivered by the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO). Small business owners who wish to have an external review of an ATO decision through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) can contact the office of the ASBFEO. The concierge service will have case managers to assist business owners in understanding the complicated AAT process. If you do not currently have legal representation, the service will allow you an hour with an experienced tax lawyer who will review your case and offer individualized advice for just $100, as opposed to requiring you to pay the complete cost of an hour with a lawyer. The Service will actually be paying that difference for you.
If your appeal progresses, the small business taxpayer will be assigned a case manager from the AAT’s new Small Business Taxation Division. At this point, the applicant, if they still do not have legal representation, will be offered an additional hour with the tax lawyer at no additional cost, and will even pay a reduced application fee. SBTD applicants are expected to have a vastly improved turnaround time of only 28 days from the date of their AAT hearing. In addition, the SBTD will be working to further expedite ATO decision disputing for small business.
Faster Turnaround Times, Less Financial Damage
With these new measures, there could be a vast improvement in audit disputes in the future. Working as intended, the Small Business Concierge Service and the Small Business Taxation Division should help to make the objection process easier, lowering costs and speeding up turnaround times for small business owners.
Disputing an Audit
If you find yourself needing to dispute an audit, this is the time when good recordkeeping and a quality accountant can make all the difference. TCA Darwin can help you grow and protect your business. Make an appointment with our experienced team today.