When the ATO comes knocking.


Do you have a tax debt?  Have you been issued with a letter of demand from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) or been threatened with legal proceedings?

Has the ATO has sent you a director penalty notice or calculated an unfair debt with penalties or general interest charges added?  Or do you have a problem with the assessment of income tax, GST, payroll tax, stamp duty, capital gains tax or land tax?

It is critical that you deal with your taxation problem or dispute willingly and proactively at an early stage.  ATO problems do not go away and only get worse with time. Dealing with them early on maximises the prospects of a favourable resolution. As the ATO usually charges interest over time, the longer the problem remains unresolved means it only increases the complexity and costs involved in the matter.

Tax disputes are a technical area of law and difficult to address alone.


What to do when you receive a notice from the ATO?

Act promptly. Almost always there are very specific statutory deadlines that you must comply with when dealing with the ATO.

You should also exercise caution and seek immediate legal advice if you receive a request from the ATO for documents or information. It is important to consider whether the documents requested are privileged in some way and or can be used against you in litigation.

PCL Lawyers are experienced in successfully tackling and resolving taxation disputes for individuals and SMEs. We work in conjunction with your accountant to resolve the issues.  We regularly work with taxation experts.

If you do not have a taxation expert, we can recommend capable and experienced accountants so that we can work with them collaboratively on your behalf.


Types of ATO Disputes We Can Assist With.

We guide you through the process with clarity and reduce the stress associated with the ATO’s demands from you.  We have extensive experience in resolving problems such as:


  • ATO initiated debt recovery proceedings and letters of demand – Court proceedings against you have either been commenced or are imminent.
  • Director penalty notices – making company directors personally liable for company’s unpaid PAYG, GST or superannuation guarantee liabilities.
  • Garnishee notices – notices issued to a third party, such as your Bank or your employer, entitling the ATO to withdraw or be paid money otherwise due to you.
  • Statutory demands and bankruptcy notices – formal demands for payment of a debt.
    Non-compliance with a statutory demand or a bankruptcy notice creates an automatic assumption that you are insolvent. There are strict deadlines – seek immediate legal advice.
  • Objections to tax decisions and seeking private rulings for those complex scenarios requiring technical expertise.
  • Applications to remit penalties and general interest charges – The ATO imposes a general interest charge on late payments. It can also apply penalties for failure to lodge on time, false or misleading statements and generally failing to meet with a taxpayer’s obligations. There are circumstances in which the penalties and the general interest charges can be remitted – seek advice early.


We have successfully helped clients obtain favourable outcomes such as the negotiation of payment plans, reduction of penalty interest or charges.

Having an experienced lawyer assist with your tax dispute can also help change the nature of the dispute. It is often the case that the ATO will become more responsive and cooperative because engaging a lawyer shows that you are engaging with the ATO meaningfully.

PCL Lawyers are very experienced in dealing with ATO, whether by negotiating an outcome or defending Court proceedings. Getting advice will assist in resolving any ATO or Tax Dispute quickly and effectively. You will have certainty of the outcome and be able to move past the dispute ensuring you aren’t paying more than you need to for any tax liability.

Don’t feel alone and bury your head in the sand – contact one of our tax dispute lawyers and we can help you resolve it together.

Call on 1300 907 335 or complete an enquiry form and we will respond quickly.






Please note: The above is not intended to be legal advice. Every circumstance is different. Always seek legal advice in relation to your individual situation.

© PCL Lawyers 2022

About The Author

Bojana has extensive expertise in conducting complex civil litigation cases and resolving difficult legal disputes across all jurisdictions. As a...

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