Make a payment

Disputes process initiated by the Commissioner

If we disagree with a return you’ve filed, we can initiate the disputes process. This is called a Commissioner initiated dispute.

The disputes process is designed to resolve disagreements as quickly as possible by:

  • early identification of all issues
  • full disclosure of the facts and evidence, and
  • consultation between us.

If you want to initiate a dispute this is called a Taxpayer initiated dispute and follows a slightly different process.

Commissioner initiated disputes process

This is a brief overview of the steps involved in a Commissioner initiated dispute.

For more detailed information refer to the guides and standard practice statement listed in the related links section below.

Step 1: We send you a Notice of proposed adjustment

If we want to adjust a return you've filed, we'll generally send you a Notice of proposed adjustment (NOPA) first. The notice will include:

  • details of the amount we want to adjust
  • the facts and tax laws that support the adjustment we are proposing, and
  • how the law applies to the facts.

Outcome:

If you accept all our adjustments we'll issue a new assessment in line with our amounts and the matter ends there.

If you disagree with any part of our notice, the process continues with Step 2.

Step 2: You send us a Notice of response

You'll send us a Notice of response (IR771) (NOR). This notice must be sent within two months from the date we issued our NOPA, otherwise you're deemed by law to have accepted our NOPA.

Your notice must include:

  • the change you want to any amounts on our NOPA
  • the facts that support the change you want, and
  • why you think your view is correct.

You can also list on the notice the documents you've attached.

Outcome:

If we accept your notice we’ll issue a new assessment in line with your amount or the assessment in your return stands, and the matter ends there.

If we disagree with your notice, the process continues with Step 3.

Step 3: Conference between us both

We get together to:

  • exchange relevant information and documents about the dispute, and
  • try and resolve differences about the facts, laws and legal arguments.

This can be done over the phone or in person. You can choose to have a senior Inland Revenue staff member act as facilitator for the conference. This facilitator will have had no previous involvement with the dispute.

Outcome:

If we reach an agreement at the conference, we'll issue a new assessment to reflect that agreement.

If we can’t reach an agreement at the conference, you can ask for our agreement to opt out of the remainder of the disputes process if you consider that the dispute can be more efficiently resolved at the Taxation Review Authority or High Court. If we agree to your request to opt out we’ll issue a new assessment and the process continues with step 7.

If we can't reach an agreement at the conference or on your opt out request, the process continues with Step 4.

 

Step 4: We send you a Disclosure notice and our Statement of position

A Disclosure notice will be sent with our Statement of position (SOP). The statement will include:

  • an outline of the facts, documentary evidence and propositions of law we are relying on, and
  • an outline of the issues we consider are in dispute.

If the dispute goes to the Taxation Review Authority or High Court, we can't introduce any issues or propositions of law that weren’t in our SOP unless you agree to it. This is called the Issues and propositions of law exclusion rule.

A judge may allow previously undisclosed issues and propositions of law to be raised in very limited circumstances.

Step 5: You send us a Statement of position

Use our Statement of position (IR773) (SOP) form. This form must include:

  • the facts that support your view
  • the questions that need to be answered to resolve the dispute
  • why you think your view is correct, and
  • a list of the evidence you're relying on.

This statement must be sent within two months of when we issued the Disclosure notice, otherwise you're deemed by law to have accepted our SOP.

If the dispute goes to the Taxation Review Authority or High Court, the issues and propositions of law exclusion rule says that you can't introduce any new issues and propositions of law that weren’t in your SOP. The only way you can introduce new issues and propositions of law is if we agree to it.

A judge may allow previously undisclosed issues and propositions of law to be raised in very limited circumstances.

If your SOP discloses matters we were not previously aware of, we are allowed by law to issue an addendum to our SOP within two months of when you issued your SOP.

In most cases, if no agreement is reached by this stage the case will go to our Disputes Review Unit for consideration.

Step 6: The Disputes Review Unit completes an adjudication report

The Disputes Review Unit staff are independent experts within Inland Revenue who'll take a fresh look at the case. They'll consider the:

  • facts
  • evidence
  • legal principles, and
  • issues raised

in each of the SOPs.

The Disputes Review Unit will reach a decision and send a copy of the adjudication report to you and the Inland Revenue staff member involved.

Outcome:

If the Disputes Review Unit decides in your favour:

  • your return stands, or
  • we'll issue a new assessment in line with the amount in your NOR

and the matter ends there.

If the Disputes Review Unit decides in our favour, we'll issue a new assessment in line with the amounts we proposed.

If you accept this decision the matter ends there.

If you are dissatisfied with this decision the process continues with Step 7.

Step 7: Taxation Review Authority or the High Court

You may take your case to the Taxation Review Authority or the High Court. Most people have their case heard before the Taxation Review Authority because it is less formal, usually costs less and is not open to the public.

You have two months to do this from the date of the new assessment based on the adjudication report decision.

You’ll receive information about how to take your case to the Taxation Review Authority or the High Court with the new assessment.

It’s up to you to prove your position in the Taxation Review Authority or the High Court. You must prove:

  • the assessment is wrong
  • why the assessment is wrong
  • the amount by which the assessment is wrong.

However, if we’ve assessed you for a shortfall penalty for evasion or a similar act we must prove the assessment is correct.

Back to top

If you miss a deadline

We must both meet a series of deadlines throughout the disputes process.

If you don't take the required action within the time limit given, you will be deemed by law to have accepted our position unless:

  • exceptional circumstances apply, or
  • you have demonstrated you intended to enter into or continue the disputes process.

Exceptional circumstances are events that are entirely outside the control of you or your agent that could not have been reasonably anticipated.

Back to top

Make sure we receive all your correspondence

Once you've written your:

  • Notice of response (NOR)
  • Statement of position (SOP)

please send it to us.

If you have been in contact with an Inland Revenue staff member about the dispute, send all your correspondence to that person. Otherwise send your correspondence to:

Inland Revenue
PO Box 39010
Wellington Mail Centre
Lower Hutt 5045

If you have a myIR account, you can send your dispute document to us electronically in one of the following two ways:

  • By using the myIR secure mail service where the dispute document must be identified by selecting the Disputes Documents category; or
  • By using the Upload requested document service and entering the relevant response code, if you have been issued one.

We do not consent to receiving a dispute document by other electronic means, unless this has been specifically agreed with you.

Back to top

Do you need professional assistance?

We recommend that you get independent advice from an accountant or other professional tax advisor if you want to proceed with your dispute. This is especially important if complex issues are involved.

Because of the nature of the disputes process, we won't fill in or draft any notices or forms required. However, we can assist by explaining such things as the required forms and time limits, or by referring you to our booklets and guides on the disputes process.

You may also find helpful the NOR guides in the related links below. The NOR guides suggest entries you might make in a NOR for a particular type of dispute if you were to fill in the NOR yourself. The suggestions may be useful for other types of disputes too. The NOR guides are based on fictitious scenarios and are intended to be examples.