ATO objection letter – how to do them

Did you get a terrible result from an audit?

You know deep down if the auditor got it wrong.  If they did, you can still get it fixed.  You’re the one who has to cop the tax debt – the auditor just moves on with their life – you’re the one who will keep getting demands asking you to pay, and later down the track you are the one whose bank account will be garnished and you are the one who will be sued in court.

You may only have 60 days.  Depending on what the decision is, you need to act quickly.  If you don’t, the ATO can just say you’re out of time, too bad, and move on.  You may not have created this mess, but you’re unfortunately the one who has to fix it because it impacts you and your family and not anyone else.

The first thing to do is know the time frame for objecting.  The shortest period is 21 days and the longest would be 4 years.  If in doubt, assume 21 days because then you can’t go wrong.

The second thing to do is know where you are in the process.  This allows you to plan ahead.  You are in the objection phase.  If this phase doesn’t go well for you the next phase is going to either the Administrative Appeals Tribunal or the Federal Court.  Both the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and the Federal Court will limit you to the grounds you set out in your objection.  That is legal speak for if you don’t make the point during objection you can’t make the same point in Court (unless the Court lets you, and if they are going to do that they will want a good reason).

When you draft your objection it needs to be written in the correct form with all the grounds set out.  You can keep these grounds more general to give you some room to maneuver later on.

Keep the objection nice and clean – focus on the issues and the facts.  Keep it specific to the requirements of the law.  Reference legislation when you can.

We have a number of ATO objection letter example templates you can use if you would like to see how one is structured.  Each one comes with 15 minutes of free support on how to use it.