Australian Tax Office



The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is an Australian statutory agency and the principal revenue collection body for the Australian Government. The ATO has responsibility for administering the Australian federal taxation system,
superannuation A pension (, from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) aroun ...
legislation, and other associated matters. Responsibility for the operations of the ATO are within the portfolio of the
Treasurer of Australia The Treasurer of Australia (or Federal Treasurer) is a high ranking official and senior minister of the Crown in the Government of Australia who is the head of the Treasury (Australia), Ministry of the Treasury which is responsible for gover ...
and the Treasury. As the Australian government's principal revenue collection body, the ATO collects
income tax An income tax is a tax imposed on individuals or entities (taxpayers) in respect of the income or profits earned by them (commonly called taxable income). Income tax generally is computed as the product of a tax rate times the taxable income. Tax ...
, goods and services tax (GST) and other federal taxes. The ATO also has responsibility for managing the Australian Business Register, delivering the Higher Education Loan Program, delivering many Australian government payments and administering key components of Australia's superannuation system.


During the colonial period of the 1800s, a number of landholders had secured large tracts of arable land in Australia. After the states federated in 1901 to form the Commonwealth of Australia, the Commonwealth's main source of revenue was derived from indirect customs and the excise on duties on locally manufactured and imported goods. The Labor
Andrew Fisher Andrew Fisher (29 August 186222 October 1928) was an Australian politician who served three terms as prime minister of Australia – from 1908 to 1909, from 1910 to 1913, and from 1914 to 1915. He was the leader of the Australian Labor Party ...

Andrew Fisher
government was elected at the 1910 federal election and was concerned about large swathes of the country being under-utilised. The government introduced the first federal tax laws – the '' Bank Notes Tax Act 1910'', the '' Land Tax Act 1910'' and the ''
Land Tax Assessment Act 1910 The ''Land Tax Act 1910'' (Cth) and the related ''Land Tax Assessment Act 1910'' (Cth) were Act of Parliament, Acts of the Parliament of Australia which imposed a Land value tax, progressive land tax on the unimproved value of land. They were ena ...
'' – to break up the large estates. George McKay was appointed the first
Commissioner of Land Taxation A commissioner (commonly abbreviated as Comm'r) is, in principle, a member of a commission or an individual who has been given a commission (official charge or authority to do something). In practice, the title of commissioner has evolved to in ...
on 11 November 1910. The first
tax return A tax return is the completion of documentation that calculates an entity or individual's income earned and the amount of taxes to be paid to the government or government organizations or, potentially, back to the taxpayer. Taxation is one of ...
forms were issued on 10 January 1911 so that landholders could be assessed for their
land tax A land value tax (LVT) is a levy on the value of land (economics), land without regard to buildings, personal property and other land improvement, improvements. It is also known as a location value tax, a point valuation tax, a site valuation ta ...
liabilities. The tax was not popular, but a
High Court of Australia The High Court of Australia is Australia's apex court. It exercises Original jurisdiction, original and appellate jurisdiction on matters specified within Constitution of Australia, Australia's Constitution. The High Court was established fol ...

High Court of Australia
challenge to the land tax found the law to be constitutional. The associated land valuations were contentious with more than 1,800 appeals and objections received by the middle of 1913. In his first year, commissioner McKay had underneath him 105 tax officers, assessed approximately 15,000 land tax returns and collected £1.3 million to £1.4 million. Over the next decade, the government introduced several new taxes, mainly to cope with the massive cost of Australia's collecting revenue to fund participation in World War I. By the end of the decade, the department employed 1,565 people and collected approximately £10.45 million in taxes. According to its 2013–14 Annual Plan, the ATO employs an average of 22,022 people. In the 2012–13 financial year, the ATO collected revenues totalling $313.082 billion in individual income tax, company income tax, goods and services (GST) tax, excise and others. Former employee Richard Boyle has alleged that there was a culture within the ATO to increase the use of
garnishee notices Garnishment is a legal process for collecting a monetary judgment Judgement (or US spelling judgment) is also known as ''adjudication Adjudication is the legal process by which an arbitration, arbiter or judge reviews evidence (law), evide ...
, which allow the ATO to access funds in the bank accounts of taxpayers. This was investigated by the Inspector-General of taxation, Ali Noroozi. Noroozi's findings included concerns that small businesses were not given enough time to react to a garnishee notice before having their funds seized. The ATO was criticized for attempting to suppress Boyle's revelations with a
non-disclosure agreement A non-disclosure agreement (NDA) is a law, legal contract or part of a contract between at least two party (law), parties that outlines confidential material, knowledge, or information that the parties wish to share with one another for certain p ...
and accusing him of 66 offences related to breach of privacy. The ATO was the first Australian Government agency to introduce a
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artificial intelligence Artificial intelligence (AI) is intelligence—perceiving, synthesizing, and inferring information—demonstrated by machines, as opposed to intelligence displayed by animal cognition, animals and human intelligence, humans. Example tasks in ...

artificial intelligence
on it
(see Artificial intelligence in government).


Chris Jordan was appointed Commissioner of Taxation and Registrar of the Australian Business Register on 1 January 2013. The Australian Taxation Office has been headed by twelve Commissioners of Taxation: * George McKay – 1910–16 * Robert Ewing – 1917–39 * Lawrence Jackson – 1939–46 * Patrick McGovern – 1946–61 * John O'Sullivan – 1961–63 * Daniel Canavan – 1963–64 * Edward Cain – 1964–76 * William (Bill) O'Reilly – 1976–84 * Trevor Boucher – 1984–93 * Michael Carmody – 1993–2005 * Michael D'Ascenzo – 2005–12 * Chris Jordan – 2013–present

Organisational structure

The Commissioner of Taxation is responsible for the general administration of the tax system and the ATO. The Commissioner of Taxation and three Second Commissioners of Taxation are each appointed for a term of seven years. The Commissioner and Second Commissioners are eligible for re-appointment after each term. The current Commissioner of Taxation is Chris Jordan (appointed in January 2013), the previous Commissioner was Michael D'Ascenzo. The overall strategic direction of the organisation is set by the ATO Executive Committee, which is composed of the Commissioner, three Second Commissioners, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Service Delivery Officer, and Chief Finance Officer. These roles are currently held by; * Chris Jordan, Commissioner of Taxation and Registrar of the Australian Business Registry * Jeremy Hirschhorn, Second Commissioner * Deb Jenkins, Second Commissioner * Ramez Katf, Second Commissioner and Chief Information Officer * Jacqui Curtis, Chief Operating Officer * Melinda Smith, Chief Service Delivery Officer * Janine Bristow, Chief Finance Officer Furthermore, the ATO's operations are managed through five groups which are led by members of the executive. These groups are: * Client Engagement, led by Second Commissioner Jeremy Hirschhorn. * Law Design and Practice, led by Second Commissioner Deb Jenkins. * Service Delivery and Business Reporting and Registrations, led by Chief Service Delivery Officer Melinda Smith. * Enterprise Solutions and Technology, led by Second Commissioner and Chief Information Officer Ramez Katf. * Enterprise Strategy and Corporate Operations, led by Chief Operating Officer Jacqui Curtis. Groups are further divided into business and service lines (BSLs) which are responsible for the delivery of group priorities.


The Commissioner of Taxation is required to prepare and release an annual report each financial year. The annual report outlines the ATO's performance and achievements for each financial year. Table 1.1 ATO net tax collections 2008–09 FY to 2012–13 FY (in $m)


* Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 * Income Tax Assessment Act 1997

See also

* Business activity statement * List of Australian government entities *
Tax file number A tax file number (TFN) is a unique identifier issued by the Australian Taxation Office The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is an Australian statutory agency and the principal revenue collection body for the Australian Government. The ATO ha ...
TaxPack TaxPack is a booklet issued by the Australian Taxation Office The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is an Australian statutory agency and the principal revenue collection body for the Australian Government. The ATO has responsibility for admi ...


External links

Australian Taxation Office

ATO Facebook profile

ATO Twitter profile

{{Authority control Revenue services Commonwealth Government agencies of Australia Taxation in Australia Taxation Office Government agencies established in 1910 1910 establishments in Australia