Tax & ATO Disputes

Have you got a Tax or ATO Dispute?

Businesses run into all sorts of financial issues. This is the single largest cause for taxation disputes, tax audits and ATO prosecutions.

Gibbs Wright Litigation Lawyers deal with disputes with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), the Queensland Office of State Revenue (OSR) and your accountant, if they have caused you financial loss because of their negligence.

We can assist individuals and small to medium enterprise companies anywhere in Australia in relation to professional negligence and ATO disputes.

Most of our clients are facing dire financial circumstances, and we are here to give sound and considered legal advice.

In this current economic climate, you are not alone, and you have options.

Should I get an accountant or a lawyer?

This typically depends on how serious your matter is and what the dispute relates to. For a payment plan for small debts, your accountant should be able to negotiate with the ATO on your behalf without any difficulty.

You should consider engaging a lawyer if your issue ticks any one of the following categories:

  • The dispute involves a typically large or more complex debt (or your accountant cannot achieve a resolution on their first attempt)
  • There is a risk of bankruptcy or liquidation (now or in the foreseeable future)
  • You are considering external mediation or in-house ATO facilitation to resolve the dispute
  • You have been asked to an interview or the ATO have otherwise asked you questions which may incriminate you
  • You require the ATO to make a decision
  • You have received an unfavourable ATO decision and wish to dispute it
  • Director guarantees or indemnities exist
  • You have received a statutory demand (or expect to)
  • You have received a bankruptcy notice (or expect to)
  • You have received a garnishee notice (or expect to)
  • You have received a director penalty notice (or expect to)
  • You have debts or other compensation owed to you that could be recovered
  • Your accountant or other financial advisors have given you negligent advice or have missed the due date of lodgement
  • You are being audited and suspect there may be issues
  • You are being prosecuted
  • Anything else involving a legal issue

Talk to a Lawyer today

If you have any questions regarding any of our services, or just need a question answered about a tax or ATO dispute, then make an enquiry and our Litigation team will be in touch with you as soon as possible.

Why Gibbs Wright Litigation Lawyers

Gibbs Wright Litigation Lawyers are skilled negotiators; we negotiate multi-million-dollar lawsuits, so we know what it takes to get a deal done.

Negotiation is necessary, regardless of whether you’re being prosecuted or if you’ve received a demand to pay a debt.

If you have financial issues, as litigation and insolvency lawyers, Gibbs Wright can do a full review of both your debtors and creditors list, because we know that most businesses that are struggling financially would be in a far better position if their debtors paid up.

If you’re being prosecuted, we can provide a vigorous defence and give you sound and considered legal advice.

Our experienced lawyers can provide advice on safe harbor (both insolvency safe harbor and ATO safe harbor), directors guarantee issues and specific insolvency or bankruptcy advice if necessary.

We are also diligent and flexible with our fees. We want to help businesses stay afloat, and we know that in times of financial restraint, obtaining good legal advice can be a tough decision. Talk to us to see what solutions we can offer you.

Areas of Tax Dispute

We can review your debtor list and see what recoveries may be achieved in the timeframe required. See our Debt Disputes page for more information.

If you have received an unfavourable tax bill or decision (including being issued with a penalty), we can assist – from internal and external review mechanisms, to arbitration, to providing representation in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) and the Federal Court. See our Appeal a Government Decision page for more information.

If you find yourself in a tax grey-area, or in a dispute with an ATO officer, you may be able to alleviate that issue by requiring a public ruling (interpretation of tax laws) or private ruling (how a tax law applies to your specific circumstances). We can assist you by gathering the necessary paperwork and drafting legal submissions on your behalf.

If you are being audited and you suspect there may be issues, you should obtain legal assistance immediately. We can work with you and your accountant to put your best foot forward, and work towards avoiding a prosecution.

If you are asked or required to participate in an interview with the ATO, contact us immediately for assistance. We can determine whether you are in fact required to attend, and assist you to prepare from a legal perspective if you do. We should sit by your side in any interview. It isn’t a sign you’re guilty – it’s a show of force.

If the ATO investigates you and you think that you may be exposed for tax fraud (including tax evasion or tax avoidance schemes) or you are charged with tax fraud, you should immediately seek legal advice. We see time and time again people waiting too long to engage us in ATO prosecutions, or burying their heads in the sand until it’s too late. See our Fraud, Business & White Collar page for more information.

Directors can be personally liable for PAYG withholding and the Super Guarantee Charge (amongst other things). Although it is best to contact us prior to a director penalty notice being issued, if the ATO has already issued you with a notice, we can explore your defences and, in some cases, may be able to negotiate with the ATO.

If your accountant has not taken reasonable care and makes a false statement to the ATO causing a shortfall amount, or fails to lodge a document by the due date, you may be able to apply for ATO safe harbor and avoid certain penalties. Safe harbor (ATO) is different to insolvency safe harbor laws, but both may be beneficial to a business with an ATO dispute.

Directors can be held personally liable for some or all of the debts incurred when a company trades while insolvent. Safe harbor (insolvency) laws may assist to restructure the company (even if trading insolvent) without incurring liability, but require that you to obtain appropriate advice (amongst other requirements). Contact us to determine whether safe harbor can assist you.

If your accountant or other professional has given you bad advice, you may be able to commence legal proceedings against them for professional negligence. See our Professional Negligence page for more information.

The meaning of whether a business is trading insolvent is a complex legal question. We can provide you sound advice as to the position of your company and assist with restructuring. See our Insolvency page for more information.

If you’re a sole trader, in a partnership, or you’re a company director facing bankruptcy (whether from the ATO or otherwise), we can review your situation and provide advice. We can help you defend matters and review the validity of bankruptcy notices. See our Bankruptcy page for more information.

We can assist in negotiating on your behalf to reach a compromise regarding your tax payments with the ATO. This includes over the phone with the ATO or representing you in external mediation or in-house ATO facilitation.

Negotiating with the ATO may assist with:

  • Having more time to pay your tax debt
  • Avoiding or reducing interest on ATO debts
  • Releasing some or all of your tax debts (for individuals experiencing serious hardship)
  • Qualifying for concessions or tax breaks (for businesses experiencing financial difficulties)
  • Reducing the amount the ATO are taking from your bank or from your wages
  • Avoiding bankruptcy, winding-up or prosecution

The ATO has never been more friendly

The ATO has an obligation to recover taxes, but over the past few decades, the ATO have become surprisingly open to engaging in dispute resolution.

COVID-19 has further expanded the scope for the ATO to compromise with individuals and businesses that need temporary delay or reduced debt repayments.

Consequently, it is the easiest time in history for individuals and businesses to reach a compromise with the ATO.

Gibbs Wright Litigation Lawyers is here for your you and your business, from assisting you with ATO disputes through to helping you get your business back on track and helping to avoid director liability or prosecutions if it comes to that.