In all our commentary on the Australian Taxation Office, not once have we personalised our criticisms.
Yes, we have said that the Tax Commissioner is a Tax Dictator. But that is a statement of legal fact. All tax power by statute is vested in the Tax Commissioner. And those powers make the Commissioner effectively policeperson, prosecutor, judge, jury and financial hangman. That is, the powers of the office holder of the Tax Commissioner are the powers of a dictator! Here’s what the Tax Commissioner can do to you.
Yet the current holder of the office, Tax Commissioner Mr Chris Jordan, seems so angered by our criticism that he has launched personalised attacks.
Under parliamentary privilege—that is, safe from defamation action—in evidence before a Senate Committee Mr Jordan has attacked Self-Employed Australia and our Executive Director Ken Phillips. It is fair enough that Mr Jordan seeks to reject our criticisms. But he should be factual. Here’s one example where he is wrong in his Senate ‘evidence’:
Mr Jordan: There was a person on Four Corners who said that the people at the ATO—he had a bit of a mixed metaphor here—slowly boil people until we roast them to death. I can cook, so I know you don’t roast when you boil, but nonetheless that’s what he said. So, yes, he said that, and that was on the ABC Four Corners program—entirely inappropriate—
The Tax Commissioners is entirely wrong. The transcript of my words on the Four Corners show, ‘Mongrel Bunch of Bastards’ on Monday 9 April 2018, reads:
“They play games with you. They just pull you in, and then they cook you slowly, effectively until you are roasted and you are dead.”
There was no mixed metaphor.
Mr Jordan is entitled to criticise or make allegations about us, even if he wants to move from policy to personal criticism. But what the community expects from the holder of arguably the most powerful public service position in the country is strict truth. Mr Jordan’s ‘misstatement’ is unbecoming of the holder of this important public office in our view.
Here’s the core point. We work hard to assist people under attack from the ATO. We find constantly that the ATO manipulates facts and does not tell the truth. This occurs as they oppress people such as those who appeared on ‘Mongrel Bunch of Bastards’.
The foregoing example of roasting/boiling is silly. But, if the Tax Commissioner himself cannot be relied upon to be factual, even before a Senate Committee, what does that say of the reliability of ATO facts when they prosecute small business people?
We will expose more and more serious ATO fact manipulation.