Following the ABC Four Corners program which aired on 9 April 2018, the Inspector-General of Taxation (IGOT) has announced a review into the allegations made in the program, coupled with a broader intention to explore the themes arising from related complaints made to his office in recent years.

Specifically, the IGOT review will focus on the ATO’s:

strategies to manage tax debts by way of garnishee notices policies and procedures for issuing garnishee notices, including how the ATO considers circumstances of taxpayers such as vulnerable small businesses and individuals mechanisms to ensure staff adherence to its garnishee notice policies and procedures Key Performance Indicators (KPI) with respect to both tax debt collection and staff performance specific communications to staff regarding the use of garnishee notices and associated KPIs at each location of its debt recovery units and other relevant concerns or potential improvements identified during the course of the review.

The IGOT notes that following his review into the ATO’s debt collection approaches in 2015, 19 recommendations were made; some of which related specifically to garnishee notices.

Despite this, the IGOT (as the Taxation Ombudsman) has continued to receive complaints about the ATO’s debt recovery actions. It is noted that such complaints have consistently formed over 20 per cent of all complaints made to the IGOT, and that the use of garnishee notices is amongst the top three topics of such complaints.

We will be making a submission to the IGOT.