The Australian Taxation Office recently launched a new in-house facilitation dispute resolution process following a pilot trial of the process in 2013.

The facilitation process can be used in a range of disputes including less complex disputes arising from indirect tax, small business and individual audits and objections.

The process provides an opportunity for taxpayers to present their view of the tax issues and facts in dispute at an early stage with a view to avoiding litigation and resolving disputes at an early stage.

The ATO may refer a dispute to facilitation.

Alternatively, the ATO may agree to a taxpayer’s request to refer a dispute to facilitation.

Facilitators are ATO officers who have not had any prior involvement in the dispute.

They are trained in ADR and mediation and must act impartially.

Review and appeal rights are unaffected by facilitation, but taxpayers must still comply with the normal timeframes.