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Appendix 10: Use of access powers

In most circumstances, we work cooperatively with taxpayers and third parties to obtain relevant information without having to exercise our formal powers. Our approach to information gathering, including the policies and procedures for the use of our powers, is available at ato.gov.au/useofpowers.

Use of formal information-gathering notices is necessary where third parties, such as financial institutions, are required to provide private tax-related information to us. They are also necessary to establish the relevant facts and evidence in audits and other investigations.

During 2020–21, there were:

  • 12 occasions in which we needed to gather relevant information using our powers to obtain access without notice
  • 20,954 formal notices issued to obtain relevant information and documents, including situations where we combined notices for information and documents with notices requiring formal interviews.
Formal access and information-gathering powers used by the Commissioner, 2018–19 to 2020–21(a)

Access – approved submissions

2018–19

2019–20

2020–21

With notice

16

11

7

Without notice

5

3

5

Immediate

1

1

0

TOTAL

22

15

12

Formal information-gathering notices

2018–19

2019–20

2020–21

Information or document

25,299

17,403

20,810

Attend and give evidence

410

246

110

Formal offshore requests

43

56

34

TOTAL

25,752

17,705

20,954

Note

(a) Care should be taken in extrapolating trends from this data. Figures include all formal notices issued, including the re‑issue of a formal notice, and do not represent the number of taxpayers who have received a formal notice.

Use of assumed identities

Our employees may use assumed identities to gather intelligence and evidence against individuals and criminal networks under investigation. Under the Crimes Act 1914, we are required to regularly audit records of authorisations and revocations of assumed identities.

As at 30 June 2021, there were no authorisations for our field intelligence staff to hold assumed identities.

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