DEALING WITH DISPUTES ABOUT TAXATION IN A ‘FAIR’ WAY
By Tania Sourdin
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) processes are increasingly being used to deal with a wide range of disputes that can include regulatory disputes involving government. This article explores the use of ADR in disputes relating to taxation and involves a consideration of effectiveness, procedural justice indicators and potential issues with the use of ADR in these disputes. In particular, perceptions of fairness and outcome are contrasted as well as indicia relating to participatory features. The article is based on a study that involved a selected sample of 118 Australian tax disputes that progressed to conciliation, mediation and evaluation over a 12 month period in 2013 and 2014. The study examined the results of 340 surveys of those involved in the sample disputes. It is suggested that procedural justice factors can impact on effectiveness of an ADR process and whether a dispute will be ‘finalised’, however, other factors that are related to the time taken and costs expended can also be relevant in shaping perceptions with different participant groups and may impact on the outcome reached.