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Commonly Asked Questions

Q. When can a director be held personally liable for non-payment of taxes by a business?

Company directors will be held personally liable for non-payment of taxes when the company fails to remit to the ATO money deducted from the salaries of its employees, such as PAYG. Where this occurs, a penalty will be imposed on the directors for the amount which should have been remitted.

Directors are to be given 14 days notice before the ATO is entitled to recover this penalty.

However, directors have a defence where the failure to remit was due to illness or some other good reason, of if they can prove that they took all reasonable steps to ensure compliance in the first place.

Q. What is the process for making an arrangement to repay an ATO debt by instalments?

Individuals with a debt of less than $25,000 may contact the ATO by telephone on 13 28 65 to arrange for payment of their debt by way of instalments over a period of time.

Q. Does the ATO have the ability to write off GST and/or PAYG debts owed to them?

The ATO must pursue recovery of its debts, such as GST or PAYG owed to it unless it has been written off as authorised by law, or if they are satisfied that it is not legally recoverable, or if it considers that it is not economical to pursue recovery of the debt.

If you like more information or assistance regarding any legal or accounting matters, complete and submit the Express Enquiry form on the top right hand side of this page and we will contact you to discuss your enquiry or call us on 1300 QUINNS (1300 784 667) or on +61 2 9223 9166 to arrange an appointment.


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The Quinn Group operates Quinn Consultants, Quinn Lawyers, Quinn Financial Planning and Quinn Financial Solutions. The Quinn Group provides related information in regard to legal, accounting and financial planning issues. Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation* *other than for the acts or omissions of financial services licensees.