Compliance and tax investigations

The ACT Revenue Office collects revenue to safeguard the financial future and progress of the ACT. We monitor and ensure the integrity, fairness and effectiveness of the territory’s taxation system and play a key role in enforcing revenue laws and protecting public revenue.

Compliance develops strategies and conducts investigations to ensure taxpayers meet their legal obligations. Our focus is:

To ensure fairness for all ACT taxpayers, we use a system of penalties in certain situations when people do not voluntarily meet their taxation obligations. For example, we may impose interest and penalty tax if you underpay, fail to pay or pay late. The penalty tax rate ranges from 25 to 100 per cent of the tax you owe, depending on the circumstances.

We may reduce your penalty tax if you make a voluntary payment and disclose any discrepancies you discover in detail before an investigation begins.  If you obstruct or hinder an investigation, your penalty tax may increase.

Information Sharing

ACTRO shares information with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and revenue offices. Information is also gathered from other Territory directorates, Federal government departments and private enterprises.

For example, the ACT Revenue Office works with the ATO and other agencies to combat illegal phoenix activity through the Phoenix Taskforce. Further information on the Phoenix Taskforce can be found here.

Audits and investigations

Compliance undertakes audits and investigations to ensure taxpayers pay the correct tax or duty, and reviews grant and concession eligibility. We try to provide you with the highest possible standards of integrity and service in the course of our investigations.

Case selection

Compliance selects matters to be investigated in a number of ways, including:

What happens if you're selected?

If you are selected for audit/investigation, we will conduct either a field audit or a desk audit. When we carry out a field audit, the investigator will:

When we perform a desk audit, the investigator will:

To prepare for an investigation, make sure you have the requested records ready for the investigator at the specified time. If you discover any discrepancies or undeclared tax liabilities and disclose these omissions to the investigator in detail, a penalty reduction may apply.

In dealing with complex matters, you may want to ask your legal or financial representative for advice. We encourage you to do so if it helps you understand the relevant issues.

As for what to expect in the course of an investigation, the length of the investigation largely depends on the complexity of the issues, the information you provide, how quickly you provide it, and its accuracy and completeness.

During an investigation, the investigator may conduct interviews and ask questions to determine your compliance with tax legislation, and may examine and test your records.

If the investigator finds any issues, they will notify you of the outcome of the audit in writing, detailing any actions you need to take.

All ACTRO officers must adhere to strict legislative secrecy provisions. They will treat any information gathered in the strictest confidence and won’t use or divulge your information unless the law requires them to do so.

If you have any questions about the arrangements for an audit or the investigation process, please contact the investigator or contact officer.

What are the investigator's powers?

Investigators have a range of powers. They can:

If you do not comply with an investigator’s lawful requests, you may face increased penalties and prosecution.

Your obligations

During an investigation, you need to:

If you unduly delay the provision of information, or impede an investigator from exercising their duties, you may face greater penalties and potentially prosecution.

Your rights

If we’re investigating your case, you have certain rights before, during and after the investigation.

Before the investigation commences, you have the right to:
During the investigation, you have the right to:
At the end of an investigation, you have the right to:

Keeping records

In order to correctly determine and assess your liability you need to keep appropriate records. For example, if you are applying for the First Home Owner Grant (FHOG), you need to demonstrate that you’ve met the residency requirements. You may have to prove residency by providing evidence that confirms your occupancy period.

All of your records should correctly document and explain the items to which they relate. They need to be in English, and you should be ready to produce if we require them.

You are required to keep your tax records for at least five years after you made or obtained them, or for at least five years from the completion of the relevant transaction.

The documents you need to keep include, but are not limited to:

Failing to keep the proper records is an offence.

Other record-keeping offences include:

These offences may result in higher penalties and/or prosecution.


ACTRO investigates anonymous disclosures and tip-offs from members of the general public.

We assure confidentiality, and we welcome any information you have about any instances of non-compliance with the taxes, duties and grants we oversee.

You can report a disclosure – either anonymously or otherwise – to the ACT Revenue Office by phone at (02) 6207 0004 or online using contact us form.