Tax Disputes

Experience strategic solutions to tax disputes with insights from the ATO, Federal Court, and Victorian Bar.

Aptum’s tax disputes practice is led by experienced, former senior ATO lawyers and a former judicial registrar of the Federal Court of Australia, and is supported by a seasoned group of top lawyers, business directors, and commercial experts.

Our unique insights into the inner workings of the ATO, Courts and Tribunals allows us to understand the policy considerations that impact decisions, craft persuasive arguments, and apply mastery to both State tax and Federal tax disputes and litigation – positioning you for the best possible outcome in your tax dispute.

Engagement with the ATO & State Revenue Office (SRO)

The ATO and SRO are large revenue authorities comprising of different departments and teams, each with their own policies, practices and objectives.  In disputes with these authorities, it can be difficult to understand the different types of engagement options and products that may be available to you.

 

Before a dispute gets to the audit, objection or litigation stages, there are a range of opportunities to engage with the ATO or SRO to effectively influence the achievement of your objective.

 

Aptum’s tax disputes leaders worked at the ATO for over a decade.  We understand how revenue authorities work, how they make decisions in the early stages of disputes and the types of information required to make these decisions.

 

Aptum can help you gain clarity on your tax liability and avoid significant penalties by identifying the most effective pathways for engaging with the ATO and SRO.

 

We can do so on your behalf or work with your preferred accountant or tax agent.

 

Aptum can assist by:

 

  • applying for a private ruling, which is a process to seek advice from the ATO or SRO as to their view on how the tax law applies to you, or to a proposed transaction
  • making a voluntary disclosure about a mistake, omission or claim in your tax return, or other information provided to the ATO or SRO
  • undertaking risk reviews, which are usually comprehensive or specific risk reviews conducted by revenue authorities to determine whether they should proceed to a full audit of your affairs
  • responding to an audit position paper
  • seeking remission of interest or penalties
  • applying for release, compromise or waiver of your tax debt
  • seeking to defer or pay your tax debt by instalments
  • engaging in various engagement options that are client and process-specific, such as: Dispute Assist, In-House Facilitation, Independent Review and Early Engagement.

Objections to Tax Assessments

The ATO or SRO may issue a notice of assessment or amended assessment following an audit or data-matching exercise.

 

If you dispute the assessment, there are strict timeframes within which you can lodge an objection.  It is important to strategise the arguments you rely upon at this stage, as this can influence your options for resolution in later stages if the dispute progresses.

 

Aptum’s tax disputes leaders worked at the ATO for over a decade and have experience dealing with the SRO.  We understand how revenue authorities approach evidence and make decisions.

 

Practice Lead (Tax Disputes), Tuan Van Le, previously ran internal training sessions for ATO staff on statutory interpretation and decision making, and acted as an Assistant Commissioner in the Review & Disputes Resolution department with oversight of objections relating to indirect taxes, individuals and small businesses.

 

Aptum can help position you towards a clear, well-structured objection that focuses on the key issues and puts you on the front foot with the ATO or SRO.  We can do so on your behalf or work with your preferred accountant or tax agent.

 

Aptum can assist by:

 

  • preparing and lodging an objection on your behalf that presents the tax law and evidence in the strongest possible way to support your position;
  • advising you on specific pathways that are available to you, to position you for the best possible outcome; and
  • engaging directly with the ATO or SRO with engagement products that are only available at this stage.

ATO & SRO Debt Recovery

The ATO and SRO can identify additional tax liabilities following a review or audit of you or your company.

 

To recover this debt, the ATO and SRO have an armoury of tools they can use to escalate debt recovery proceedings against you, depending on your circumstances and their assessment of the risk to the revenue.

 

Aptum can act for you in any debt recovery proceedings or actions instituted against you.

 

Our tax disputes leaders are former managers of the ATO’s debt litigation department.  Our senior lawyers have extensive experience litigating debt recovery cases and formal examinations on behalf of the ATO.

 

Aptum are uniquely positioned to identify your risks, defend any recovery actions against you and put you on pathway to achieving the best possible resolution of your tax debt.

 

Aptum can assist with your defence to debt recovery actions from the ATO and SRO, including:

 

  • Garnishee Notices which are typically targeted to your bank accounts, employer or any debtors you may have, and requires them to pay any amounts they owe to you directly to the ATO or SRO
  • Director Penalty Notices which allows the ATO to personally recover from you unpaid company debts (PAYG withholding liabilities, superannuation or GST) of which you are a director
  • Statutory demands, which are a precursor to winding up applications against your company
  • Bankruptcy notices, which are a precursor to creditor’s petitions or bankruptcy proceedings
  • Formal notices requiring you to give information or submit to a formal interview
  • Notices requiring you to give security in respect of a tax liability or an anticipated tax liability (also known as Security Bond Demands)
  • Freezing orders, which are orders restraining you, and sometimes third parties, from dealing with certain assets otherwise you may be held to be in contempt
  • Declaratory relief that assets held by a third party (such as your husband or wife) are beneficially owned by you
  • Prosecution of criminal proceedings

Tax Litigation

Where a tax dispute cannot be resolved through the audit or objection process, Aptum can help obtain a final determination of your tax position through the Courts and Tribunals.

 

Aptum’s tax disputes leaders include a former barrister with over 11 years’ experience at the Tax and Commercial Bar, a former Executive Director and Senior Lawyer of the ATO’s litigation department, and a former Judicial Registrar of the Federal Court of Australia, and its National Coordinating Registrar for Tax.

 

Aptum are specialists in tax and commercial litigation – our singular focus on disputes creates an important focus and experience on executing litigation strategy, delivering winning outcomes through to trial.

 

Aptum can assist by:

 

  • acting for you in any review of an objection decision in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal or equivalent State Tribunal.
  • acting for you in any appeal to the Federal Court of Australia or equivalent State Supreme Court.
  • defending any debt recovery actions filed against you at all levels of State Courts (Local/Magistrates, District/County or Supreme Courts).
  • defending any insolvency proceedings – such as bankruptcy proceedings or winding up applications – filed against you or your company in the Federal Circuit Court, Federal Court or relevant Supreme Court.
  • acting for you in any administrative law challenges under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 or s 39B of the Judiciary Act 1903, such as a review of a decision to issue a garnishee notice or information-gathering notice.
  • acting for you in any claims made by a liquidator in relation to, or arising from, your tax liability or your company’s tax liability; and
  • acting for you in any mediation or conciliation of the legal proceedings.

State Tax Disputes (Land Tax, Stamp Duty)

Whilst objections relating to federal taxes such as income tax or GST are common, there are also a growing array of state taxes that can catch landowners, property investors and property developers by surprise.

 

Aptum and its wider team has in-depth knowledge of valuation processes and factors used by the SRO to determine property and land tax assessments.

 

Our team has extensive experience working with the SRO to resolve a range of issues in land tax disputes, including: high valuations, failure to apply exemptions, incorrect attribution of ownership, and double stamp duty.

 

Aptum can help you gain certainty on your tax position in relation to your land holdings and any investments, such as property transactions or property developments. We provide strategic, practical advice, so you can make informed decisions about your business and investments.

 

Aptum can assist with:

 

  • Land tax disputes (including valuation disputes, land tax exemptions and surcharges)
  • Land transfer (stamp duty)
  • Landholder duty disputes
  • advising on property taxes that may impact upon property developers and their particular developments (e.g. transfer duty, windfall gains tax on rezoned land, vacant residential land tax, growth areas infrastructure contribution)

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