Go to top of page

Appendix 4: Legal services expenditure

In 2020–21, our total legal expenditure reduced by $1.6 million (or 2%) when compared to the previous year.

Our internal legal services costs were $3.7 million higher than 2019–20 due to an increase in casework conducted in-house.

External expenditure reduced by around $5.3 million. Legal costs for addressing disputes generated by the Tax Avoidance Taskforce increased in 2020–21. However natural disasters (fires, floods and cyclones) and the continuing global COVID-19 pandemic contributed to significant reductions in debt legal recovery actions, lower summons and indemnity fees – resulting in an overall reduction of external costs.

Legal services expenditure, 2020–21(a)(b)

Type of expenditure

$

Total costs recovered

3,011,135

Briefs to counsel

17,150,693

Briefs for Independent Assurance of Settlements work

515,432

Disbursements (excluding counsel)

14,862,686

Professional fees paid

23,357,971

External legal services expenditure(c)

55,886,782

Internal legal services expenditure(d)

34,379,035

TOTAL (external and internal expenditure)

90,265,817

Notes

(a) Includes Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) and Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) legal costs. Total TPB external legal services expenditure was $600,932. Total internal legal services expenditure for the TPB was $2,877,676. Total ACNC external legal services expenditure was $245,928. Total internal legal services expenditure for the ACNC was $857,732.

(b) External expenditure in this table excludes GST.

(c) Excludes costs awarded against the ATO, costs for settlements, expenditure on compensation and legal costs attributable to the ATO’s test case program.

(d) ATO internal legal officers manage tax litigation (under Part IVC of the Taxation Administration Act 1953), debt litigation, general legal advice and freedom of information. This amount consists of the cost of labour and expenses for those activities. The amount does not include expenditure on other activities that have some of the characteristics of legal work, but which are not performed by staff in a legal capacity (for example, preparation of writs, statutory demands and bankruptcy notices or providing ATO’s interpretation of tax and superannuation law).

Number and value of briefs to counsel, 2020–21(a)(b)

Type of brief

New briefs

Total briefs

Value $

Briefs to senior counsel

Direct briefs to male senior counsel

101

154

1,881,752

Direct briefs to female senior counsel

43

83

1,305,790

Indirect briefs to male senior counsel

185

325

5,710,403

Indirect briefs to female senior counsel

99

175

3,872,615

Total senior

428

737

12,770,561

Briefs to junior counsel

Direct briefs to male junior counsel

72

102

845,134

Direct briefs to female junior counsel

59

82

652,424

Indirect briefs to male junior counsel

99

149

1,561,499

Indirect briefs to female junior counsel

73

106

1,321,075

Total junior

303

439

4,380,131

TOTAL

731

1176

17,150,693

Notes

(a) Direct briefs cover counsel briefed directly by the ATO and who work with our in-house litigators and/or business areas. Indirect briefs are counsel briefed by the ATO's external legal providers acting on behalf of the ATO.

(b) Totals may differ from the sum of components due to rounding.

Navigation

Return to List of appendixes.