To date, 11 large business taxpayers have requested an IR, giving them a one-off opportunity for a reviewer (not previously involved in the audit) from the 'Law Design and Practice Group' to consider the technical merits of the audit position paper, the taxpayer’s response and the final Statement of Audit Position.
The reviewer also conducts a case conference, where the audit team and taxpayer meet face-to-face to discuss the technical merits of their respective positions. In our experience, the case conference is a very positive initiative, and the taxpayer should come well prepared to take advantage of this valuable opportunity to convince the reviewer of its arguments, including seeking input from Counsel.
However, as the IR is currently limited to a review of the information previously provided during the audit, if the reviewer concludes that he or she does not have sufficient information to make a decision, they may close the review, leaving the audit team free to finalise the audit position and issue assessments (to which the taxpayer may still object). That is, the reviewer cannot act as a quasi-auditor who gathers the additional information not previously requested by the audit team.
While it is possible for the taxpayer to submit additional information to the reviewer to ensure that the information already provided is properly understood, in our experience, this should not be relied on given the reviewer’s firm view that their role is not to act as quasi-auditor.
In our experience, the IR function is a positive initiative, but is an option that should be carefully considered on a case-by-case basis.