Michael D'Ascenzo

Adjunct professor

School of Taxation & Business Law -

  • Bio
  • Engagement

About Michael

Michael D'Ascenzo AO is recognised internationally for his leadership and expertise in administration and governance as well as his technical and design skills in tax law and superannuation. He was Commissioner of Taxation (a statutory appointment) from 1 January 2006 to 31 December 2012 and served Australia and the Australian community in the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) for 35 years. Prior to becoming Commissioner, Michael D'Ascenzo was Second Commissioner and Chief Tax Counsel concurrently, overseeing law interpretation, corporate planning, finance and governance. He is currently a member of the Foreign Investment Review Board, the Clean Energy Regulator and is also an adviser with the International Monetary Fund.

As Commissioner, he championed corporate values that put taxpayers and the community at the centre of the ATO's thinking and he drove greater openness and transparency in governance. He is passionate about both effectiveness and efficiency of public service for the nation. His vision and energy made the ATO a leading, modern public service agency and tax administration with significant progress on sustainable and green practices. He pioneered many advances in tax and superannuation administration including improvements to Australia's self-assessment system, making the tax system fairer and more certain for taxpayers. He also led and contributed to on-line and service improvements, cultural, and technological change in the ATO and wider Australian Public Service.

He was vice chair of the OECD's Forum on Tax Administration, contributing to improving the capabilities and cooperation of tax administrations globally. He has also been recognised for his collaborative efforts with law enforcement agencies here and internationally. On 26 January 2010 he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for service to public administration, particularly through reform and innovative engagement with the taxation profession and other government agencies. In 2012 he was awarded the Chartered Accountants Federal Government Leader of the Year.

Michael holds degrees in economics and law from the Australian National University and is a graduate of Harvard Business School Program for Management Development. He is also admitted as a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court of the ACT, a solicitor of the Supreme Court of NSW, and registered with the High Court of Australia. He is an Honorary Life Membership of CPA, a member of the Australian Institute of Chartered Accountants, an Honorary Fellow of the Association of Taxation and Management Accountants, a non-executive director of Australia Post, a Fellow with the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Michael has always shown great interest in tax education and scholarship, being a frequent participant in the annual Australasian Tax Teachers Association (ATTA) conferences. He was awarded the Justice Graham Hill ATTA Medal in 2008 in recognition of his "outstanding contribution to the teaching of tax law and policy". He has always been a keen contributor to academic and student-oriented tax events, and has been a keynote speaker at most of the biennial Atax International Tax Administration Conferences that have been held since 1996.