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Monday, 11 November 2002
Page: 8697

Ms Jann McFarlane asked the Treasurer, upon notice, on 19 February 2002:

(1) Has his attention been drawn to the existence of the Part IVA Panel at the Australian Taxation Office.

(2) What is the specific role of the panel.

(3) Is the panel a formal body; if so, what powers does it have.

(4) Who are the members of the panel.

(5) Who appoints the members of the panel.

(6) How many meetings did the panel have in (a) 1996, (b) 1997, (c) 1998, (d) 1999, (e) 2000 and (f) 2001.

(7) Are minutes kept of the meetings of the panel.

(8) Are the minutes of these meetings readily available for scrutiny by the public.

Mr Costello (Treasurer) —The Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(1) Yes.

(2) The Part IVA Panel has been established to ensure that the Commissioner's power to make determinations under Part IVA is exercised appropriately and fairly, by ensuring that each case has been considered objectively on its facts. For this purpose leading professionals from outside the Tax Office have been appointed members of the panel (see below). Apart from the application of Part IVA itself, the panel also checks that proper consideration has been given to the primary tax liability questions in the cases that come before it. The Panel also helps to settle, maintain and develop the ATO position on Part IVA, monitors consistency and helps identify trends.

The Panel looks at cases usually just before the application of the general anti-avoidance provision is formalised, so that taxpayers will know their case has been properly considered before that step is taken. However, it is not necessary for a matter to be referred to the Panel if a materially identical matter has been previously considered by the Panel.

(3) The Part IVA Panel is an informal, rather than a formal body. It does not have, or exercise, any power. The Panel provides advice to officers who have power to make Part IVA determinations. The Deputy Chief Tax Counsel who attend the meeting have authority to define the ATO position on matters of law.

(4) The composition of the Panel varies between meetings. The Panel is generally comprised of a number of senior technical tax officers from the Tax Counsel Network. It is supplemented by community representatives with expertise in taxation law and Part IVA. The Panel is also attended by officers responsible for the case being considered, including an officer of the Tax Counsel Network.

The people who constitute the Part IVA Panel in 2002 are:

Des Maloney Deputy Chief Tax Counsel, ATO (Chair)

Peter Walmsley Acting Deputy Chief Tax Counsel, ATO

Phil Foster Deputy Chief Tax Counsel

Amarjit Verick Community representative

Jim Momsen Community representative (legal profession)

Prof. Robert Deutsch Community representative (academia)

Bronwyn Livermore Secretary

(5) The members of the Panel are not officially appointed. A standing Chair is informally agreed with the Chief Tax Counsel. Community representatives are drawn from the Register of External Consultants maintained by the ATO.

(6) The Part IVA Panel met for the first time on 14 April 1998.

In 1998 the Part IVA Panel met nine (9) times;

In 1999 the Part IVA Panel met eight (8) times;

In 2000 the Part IVA Panel met nine (9) times;

In 2001 the Part IVA Panel met nine (9) times.

In 2002 the Part IVA Panel has met (9) times.

(7) The outcomes of Part IVA Panel meetings are recorded in a report that is kept on file with the papers that were presented to the Panel.

(8) These reports generally contain taxpayer information. Tax officers are therefore prohibited from disclosing the reports publicly by the secrecy provisions in the Tax Act. Individuals may request access to a report under the Freedom of Information Act, and such requests would be subject to the ordinary provisions, including exemptions, contained in that Act.