5 Urgent Actions to Take When You Receive an ATO Statutory Demand

Mark Hutchins

Mark Hutchins

Director - Secured Lending

5 Urgent Actions to Take When You Receive an ATO Statutory Demand

An ATO Statutory Demand is a serious document that lands with a thud on your company doorstep. It signifies the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has exhausted its usual collection methods and is demanding immediate action on your outstanding tax debt. Don’t panic! While the situation is urgent, you do have options. Here are the 5 crucial steps you need to take within the strict 21-day timeframe:

1. Understand the Demand and Assess the Debt:

  • Read the Demand Carefully: The document clearly outlines the amount owed, the due date (which is typically 21 days from service), and the consequences of non-compliance.
  • Verify the Debt: Double-check the ATO’s calculations. Ensure the amount aligns with your records and tax assessments. If discrepancies exist, contact the ATO immediately to discuss them.

2. Explore Your Options:

The demand presents three main paths forward:

  • Pay the Debt in Full: If your company has the financial resources, settling the entire debt immediately is the simplest solution. It removes the risk of further action and allows you to move forward. Short-term loans or lines of credit can provide a quick cash injection to cover the ATO debt. 

  • Negotiate a Payment Plan: If full payment isn’t feasible, propose a manageable payment plan to the ATO. Be prepared to demonstrate your company’s financial situation and realistic repayment capabilities. The ATO is often receptive to well-structured plans that guarantee debt settlement within a reasonable timeframe.

  • Dispute the Demand (Rare Cases): In exceptional circumstances, you can challenge the validity of the demand if you have a genuine dispute regarding the debt itself. This could involve errors in ATO calculations, disagreements over deductions, or ongoing objections already filed. However, successfully disputing an ATO demand is uncommon.

3. Take Action Within the 21-Day Deadline:

Procrastination is your worst enemy here. The 21-day window is strict. Failing to respond within this timeframe is considered an admission of debt and can lead to harsher consequences, including:

  • Company Winding Up: The ATO may apply to the court to appoint a liquidator, essentially dissolving your company and selling its assets to settle the debt.
  • Director Penalty Notices: Company directors can be held personally liable for unpaid tax debts under certain circumstances.

4. Seek Professional Help (Highly Recommended):

Navigating an ATO Statutory Demand can be overwhelming. Consider seeking assistance from:

  • Registered Tax Agent: A qualified tax agent can analyze your situation, negotiate with the ATO on your behalf, and guide you through the best course of action.
  • Insolvency Practitioner: If your company is genuinely struggling financially, an insolvency practitioner can explore options like administrations or voluntary agreements with creditors.

5. Proactive Communication with the ATO:

Open and honest communication with the ATO is crucial. Even if you can’t pay the full amount immediately, contacting them demonstrates your willingness to resolve the issue. Explain your company’s situation and propose a solution, whether it’s a payment plan or clarification regarding the debt itself.


  • Time is of the Essence: Act swiftly within the 21-day window.
  • Don’t Ignore the Demand: Ignoring it only worsens the situation.
  • Explore All Options: Weigh your financial capacity and choose the most viable path forward.
  • Seek Professional Help: A tax agent or insolvency practitioner can provide invaluable expertise.
  • Communicate with the ATO: Be transparent and proactive in your approach.

Beyond the 21 Days:

If you miss the 21-day deadline, there may still be options depending on your specific circumstances. However, your negotiating power weakens significantly.

The Bottom Line:

Receiving an ATO Statutory Demand is a serious wake-up call. While it’s a stressful situation, remember, you have options. By acting swiftly, understanding your rights, and potentially seeking professional help, you can navigate this challenge and ensure the continued operation of your company.

How can Secured Lending Help?

Short term finance provide a lifeline for struggling enterprises to regain their financial footing and continue contributing to the economy.

Short-term business loans play a crucial role in supporting these plans by providing much-needed capital flexibility. If your small business is facing financial challenges, don’t hesitate to explore the benefits of restructuring and consider short-term business loans as a viable solution on your path to recovery and success. Consult with financial experts and leverage the available resources to ensure a smooth and successful restructuring journey.

Secured Lending understand the complexities of debt for businesses and the potential benefits of short-term loans. Our experienced team is here to guide you through the process  and helping you explore suitable financing options to address your debt effectively. 

Our loan products are designed to provide short term relief in circumstances where funding is not immediately available from traditional sources of finance, such as banks and other first tier institutions. These include:

We aim to implement our solutions as a matter of priority so that you can resume business as usual, with full control of your company.

If you or your client are in need of finance and need to speak to one of our experts, contact us on 1300 795 175 or email us at info@securedlending.com.au


Secured Lending


Secured Lending focuses on non-conforming, short term funding solutions with incredibly quick turnaround times. So why Secured Lending?
  • We have our own internal property valuation team.
  • We can settle caveats, 1st and 2nd mortgage loans within 24 hours up to $45m.
  • We pride ourselves on being transparent and honest in our approach, always aiming to have an initial assessment back to you in a few hour

Our rates start at 9.95% p.a. with loan terms from 1 – 24 months.

 If you have a scenario to discuss, please call us on 1300 795 175.
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