Tax disputes: ending the never ending

BY MARK BEVINGTON

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Have you experienced that time, often many months or years (and documents) into a tax dispute when you feel you’re no further forward than day one? Sometimes further back in fact; the underlying issue remains, now saddled by mutual disappointment, frustration and entrenchment. Worse still, unity among stakeholders may be lost.

That’s when a reality check’s required. Will one more attempt help the taxman see the light? More likely, mutual creativity has failed to circumvent an issue which will never be agreed. And walking away means paying the assessment; unthinkable if you believe you’re right.

‘Rightness’ may actually be the problem. Which official wants to concede if they can kick the can down the road instead? The power of Litigation is to re-frame their question. ‘Why should I concede?’ becomes ‘Do I want to lose in court?’ Often this gives a very different answer.