Are ATOIDs over?

On the 28th of November the Commissioner released two ATO Interpretative Decisions on non arms length income and limited recourse borrowing arrangements…

And since that date, no more ATOIDs. Strange.

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ATOIDs arose to fill in a gap between public rulings and private rulings.

What if a complex tax issue is not covered in a public ruling, but the Commissioner has a position in the various private rulings he gives? Then he releases an ATOID so we all can know these positions and act in accordance with them.

And initially the Commissioner gave us lots of these to consider (in 2013 there was over 1,200 released) helping us understand how the Commissioner approach various tax issues.

But the Commissioner has never been comfortable with these “non binding” opinions, and much of the text of an ATOID is taken up with caveats about how the ATOID should, and according to tne Commissioner, and should not be used. When arguing with the Commissioner in an audit, objection or the AAT, I have sern ATO staff hate the fact that I can show through an ATOID how the Commussioner has acted in previous factual situations.

So my guess is the Commissioner has just decided to stop issuing ATOIDs. He has decided to stop looking for issues covered in private rulings that would be helpful to be more widely known.

He can do this if he wants but at least he should tell us he is doing this and why he is doing it.

I may be wrong and next Friday (they are generally released on a Friday – good weekend reading) we will see an ATOID or two.

But with no ATOIDs for almost two and a half months, I think it is about time the Commissioner let us know about the future of ATOIDs.

And the picture is the Solomon Island flag made into a tax officer’s uniform… Love it.

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About Ken Mansell

As a stay at home Dad most of the week this is my way of pretending I am still the tax counsel of ASX and SEC listed companies, working at big 4 firms, working at the Federal Treasury, on the Henry Review and at Parliament House for the previous government.
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