We reported on the Full Federal Court decision of Pintarich v Deputy Commissioner of Taxation  FCAFC 79 here. In that case, the taxpayer sought to challenge, unsuccessfully, whether a letter from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) purportedly remitting the taxpayer’s general interest charge amounted to a ‘decision’ by the Commissioner of Taxation (Commissioner). The case raised the interesting question: when does the Commissioner make a ‘decision’?.
Subsequently the taxpayer sought special leave to have this case heard by the High Court.
On 17 October 2018, the High Court refused the taxpayer’s application on the basis the proposed appeal had insufficient prospects of success to warrant the grant of special leave.
This does strike as a lost opportunity for the Commissioner. Whilst he may have been ‘successful’ in this case, extrapolating the facts to other “decisions” by the Commissioner by way of automated correspondence can only breed uncertainty in the minds of taxpayers and their representatives when such correspondence is received from the ATO. Trust between the Commissioner and taxpayers flows both ways; taxpayers potentially losing trust in the ATO’s decision making processes undermines the integrity of the whole system.
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