Small businesses have been invited to report stories of heavy-handed treatment by the ATO “as a matter of urgency”, with the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman to conduct an inquiry into small business tax disputes in the coming weeks.
In a statement this morning, small business ombudsman Kate Carnell said that “under the director of treasury”, the ombudsman’s office and Inspector-Director of Taxation Ali Noroozi will be investigating alleged cases of “unfair conduct” by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
“My office is interested in examples where the ATO has targeted small businesses unfairly and the business owner has been affected financially,” Carnell said in the statement this morning.
The timeline for the inquiry is “quite tight”, with SMEs encouraged to send examples of disputes with the tax office “within the next week or two”.
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Last week, Minister for Revenue and Financial Services Kelly O’Dwyer called for an investigation into claims made in an investigation by Four Corners and Fairfax that alleged practices at the tax office including the issuing of standard garnishee notices on small business accounts.
The ombudsman’s office is hoping to provide the government with “constructive and realistic advice” about ATO practices, based off the stories heard through this inquiry.
Small businesses who share their stories will remain anonymous, Carnell says.
Interested parties can contact inquiries[at]asbfeo.gov.au and explain their situations.