Standard of proof for applying civil penalties
The standard of proof for applying civil penalties is the civil standard of "on the balance of probabilities". This means that there must be a reasonable degree of probability that the offence was committed.
When criminal penalties are applied by the courts, a higher standard of proof is required, that is, it must be proven "beyond reasonable doubt" that the offence was committed.
Rules for applying the penalties
A single breach may result in both a civil and a criminal penalty. For example, tax evasion is subject to both civil and criminal penalties.
We can only apply one shortfall penalty for each tax shortfall. If a tax shortfall attracts more than one penalty, we apply the highest of those penalties.
We can apply civil penalties after prosecution for an offence, whether or not the prosecution is successful.
However, you will not be prosecuted for an offence if a shortfall penalty has already been applied.
Onus of proof if you challenge a civil penalty
If you challenge a civil penalty, except for evasion and obstruction, the onus is on you to prove that we are wrong.
For a civil penalty for evasion or obstruction, the onus of proof rests with us, as it does for criminal offences.
Date published: 31 Jul 2013