Release type: Joint Media Release


Focus on tax dispute issues and impact on small business


Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash
Minister for Small and Family Business, Skills and Vocational Education
Senator for Western Australia
The Hon Stuart Robert MP
Assistant Treasurer

Minister for Small and Family Business, Michaelia Cash has asked the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO), Kate Carnell AO, to look into the Australian Tax Office’s (ATO) practices in pursuing early recovery of tax debts from small businesses who are in dispute with the ATO.

“Early recovery can be devastating for a small business, and is particularly damaging when the small business disputes the recovery and then goes on to win the case.”

“I am determined to make sure the Australian Tax Office treats small business fairly,” said Minister Cash.

Minister Cash has requested the Ombudsman to look into the extent of the problem and its impact on small businesses. The focus will be on historical cases and will not include live cases currently before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).

“I want to ensure that the Australian tax system is fair for small business. By having ASBFEO conduct this research, it will be able to gather a holistic picture of how current systems impact people running small business,” Minister Cash said. 

“Although I understand that the ATO will not enforce recovery of the tax debt other than in exceptional circumstances, there may be cases where the errors have occurred, and this has substantial consequences for these businesses, which needs to be avoided.”

Assistant Treasurer Stuart Robert said only the Morrison Government can ensure small businesses grow and prosper.

“We are helping small business with incentives to invest,” Minister Robert said.

“We won’t remove tax deductibility for getting advice about tax compliance, but Labor will.”

The Australian Government recently announced new measures to help level the playing field between small businesses and the ATO, creating a new Small Business Tax Disputes division within the AAT. The new measures include a telephone concierge service operated by ASBFEO and free legal advice for cases which proceed to tribunal.