The new ATO tax education course is here – what does it mean for you

New powers have been given to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to direct you to undertake a tax education course in lieu of an administrative penalty for infringements such as late lodgment or insufficient tax records.

The ATO will use this option in their compliance activity if they believe that you:

  • have failed to comply with your record-keeping obligations, and
  • are not disengaged or deliberately avoiding your tax obligations.

The alternative option will initially be given to small businesses. If you are running a company, you may need to name an individual who will take the course on behalf of the company.

It is expected that the course will be free, take approximately 2 hours to complete, and be delivered in an online platform.

If you receive an education direction, you will be required to complete the course within the time period specified by the ATO. The time period may be varied in certain circumstances, or if you provide a reasonable request prior to the end of the relevant period.

Once you complete the course, you will be required to provide that information to the ATO.

The best way to avoid the education direction is to ensure that your tax records are up to date and that you comply with tax substantiation requirements.

Factors that will lead the Commissioner of Taxation to issue an education direction include when you:

  • have shown a genuine attempt to comply with the law but have made an unintentional error or have knowledge gaps
  • have disengaged from the tax system, or
  • are deliberately avoiding your tax obligations.

Please let us know if you need more information about this with regards to your tax situation.


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