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Taxpayers are cheats and liars—anything done against them is justified—ATO

Thursday, November 15, 2018

In an article in The Australian today ('When the Taxman proves to be a monster)'  we argue that the prosecution powers of the Australian Taxation Office should be removed from the ATO and transferred to an independent body under the Attorney-General’s department.

We give examples of the ATO’s alleged abusive behaviour in litigation to demonstrate why the ATO should not be investigator, prosecutor, judge and jury all in one. This is the current situation.

And we quote top tax jurist, retired Federal Court Judge Richard Edmonds with 50 years’ tax law experience who wrote in April this year that the ATO sees taxpayers as:
“…cheats and liars and anything the ATO does to bring them to account can be justified…”
Recently we saw a glimpse into this ATO mentality in ATO evidence before a Senate Inquiry. The Senate is considering a Bill that would require Commonwealth entities, including the ATO, to behave as model litigants. The ATO oppose the Bill.

Now watch this two-minute video clip of the ATO explaining its attitude to the Senate. You’ll witness the ATO bureaucracy at its finest! They say that they process tens of millions of tax returns, only have tens of thousands of objections and only a few thousand court actions a year. The inference is that, comparatively, the ATO is doing a wonderful job! Their look of innocence is delightful!

But in our mind the ATO demonstrates that it has lost sight of its role in a democratic society that is supposed to be governed by concepts of justice. If the ATO conducts just one abusive action, that one action cannot be excused. The supposed greater good does not justify abuse of power.

But there’s not just one, or an occasional abusive action by the ATO. The case studies of ATO abuse are substantial and growing.

Senate inquiries are exposing this. Here’s a slightly longer YouTube clip of the ATO trying to explain its actions to Senator David Leyonhjelm in a Senate hearing. Do you think they have answered or avoided answering Senator Leyonhjelm’s questions?

In the end, it’s reform of the ATO that’s needed. Join our campaign here. Sign our petition. Contact your MP. We can assist.

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