On 14 September 2018, the ATO released a Decision Impact Statement regarding the decision of the Full Federal Court in FCT v Hacon Pty Ltd [2017] FCAFC 181 (Hacon). The ATO states that the Hacon decision confirms the Commissioner’s view that:

  • the Commissioner is entitled to decline to make a private ruling where the correctness of the ruling would depend on the assumptions about future events or other matters, and
  • the Commissioner is not obligated to first request that information from the taxpayer in those circumstances.

In Hacon, the Court held that the Commissioner was entitled to refuse to make a private ruling, overturning the decision at first instance in which Justice Logan of the Federal Court ruled that the Commissioner had unlawfully declined to make a private ruling. For a more detailed case update on the Hacon decision, please refer to Talking Tax issue 105.

The Decision Impact Statement notes that the ATO intends to publish further guidance for ATO officers about the Commissioner’s discretion to decline to make a private ruling.