An interview with a key ATO negotiator at Your Business Angels PTY LTD
How many years now have you been negotiating with the Australian Taxation Office?
I am dealing with ATO – it’s coming up for 10 years.
What’s changed in that period, does the ATO change its policy so that you need to keep up with?
I have witnessed so many changes in last few years. Before we were able to deal with ATO over the phone, but now a days ATO need written application with supporting documents to support our application. Before there were nothing like interim payment plan but now ATO also hold the case by entering into interim payment plan while we finalized the accounts and lodge up to date with ATO for final negotiation.
Does the job require a lot of patients?
Dealing with ATO we need so much patience. The most important thing is that each time you call ATO you have to tell the whole story again as there is a new person on other end. They keep a note of all phone conversation but still you need to explain the basic things again over the phone to new person. Also according to ATO guideline they take 28 business days to give response to our written application.
Is there a level of credibility in negotiating with the ATO, or is every job a new start?
Every job has a new start, because every client has different situation. But off course, my years of experience become helpful to me to deal with ATO in different prospect. I know the system how ATO works and according to that I represent my client’s situation to negotiate with ATO. This is the main thing that my client has win-win situation most of the time.
What has to be in place before you can call and begin to negotiate with the Australian Taxation Office?
To deal with ATO we have to make sure our client’s all lodgements must be up to date. Without that ATO will not do any kind of negotiation. Also some time even lodgements are up to date, still ATO require Business Viability Information to get any payment plan approved.
What are the barriers or resistance that you face when you start negotiating?
The only thing is that if the case if out of ATO department and transferred to Legal action or client has court summons than it is very hard to deal with ATO. These departments need more specific and detail information to get deal done. Also if any of our client’s case is with family court, then we have to wait until family court take a judgement.
There seems to be a lot about how long the ATO is giving for businesses to pay of their debt off, what is the current time as you understand it?
If any client has tax debt and it is not payable in full, then ATO will allow client to pay this tax debt in 24 months of time. If the amount of tax debt is really large, then ATO will also ask for 30% upfront and remaining balance need to pay in 24 months of time. Also during this period the client need to lodge ongoing obligation on time and need to pay in full is well.
Is there differences in dealing with different structures, say sole-traders, partnerships and companies?
There is not much differences to deal with any business structure. But for partnership it is little bit different when partnership is with husband and wife and if at any stage they decide to take divorce.
How do you get around negotiating, when the client has had a bad history with the ATO?
Bad compliance history is the red tag. Very hard to get remission. But with strong application it is possible to negotiate with ATO. In this case we need to justify ATO that why our client has bad compliance history and also the reasons must match with ATO guideline.
Tell us about some of your best results?
With grace of god, I have managed to help a lot of clients in last few years. With those client total remission is $1.5 million. This has comes with lot of patience, hard work and offcourse following ATO’s strict guideline. Here I am not counting those clients who have got smaller remission there are many of these.
What would be some of your key words of advice for someone in business?
As a responsible citizen of Australia, I insist everyone to lodge and pay their taxes on time. I have witnessed, if a client don’t lodge their taxes for more than 2 years, then there are very less chances to make a comeback. Also right advice is the most important aspect for any business and I have seen many business grow in our company after they join us. So many clients have make a comeback from Legal action and now they are running their business with profit.