Modernising the ATO’s existing public rulings

The ATO has produced a large number of public rulings over many years. Although most are current, many have not been updated in a very long time.

To address this situation it has announced a program of modernisation of its database of rulings under its new “advice under development” program. This initiative allows practitioners to see in one place the issues for which the ATO is preparing public advice and guidance.

“We recognise the importance of keeping our stock of public rulings up to date,” the ATO says. “Taxpayers and their advisers should have no doubts about the currency of our view, and what law that view is based upon. We will also be looking to review the examples in our rulings, so they remain contemporary and reflect current business practices.”

The treatments being doled out to the database of existing rulings range from a “light touch” (for example, updating old legislative references) to “heavy reworking” (such as where public rulings with related subject matter can be consolidated into a new single ruling).

The ATO says the new program replaces its “rulings” and “law administration practice statement” programs. The areas of advice are grouped into several “issues” (the links below will open an ATO page listing the rulings currently being considered), and include:

Information pertaining to the program will be updated at the beginning of each month. Coming out of the whole process is also the identification of potential withdrawals from the ATO’s rulings (see them here).

The ATO advices that if readers think advice or guidance is needed on an issue that is not listed, or if there is any other query on a particular issue, practitioners and taxpayers can contact it via email at publicguidance@ato.gov.au.

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