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Wednesday, 7 September 1983
Page: 510


Mr ROCHER(5.51) —Clause 4 proposes to omit section 4 (5) of the principal Act which reads:

Where-

(a) a person makes a request in writing to the Commissioner that the Commissioner disclose to the person information relating to an arrangement or transaction referred to in paragraph 5 (l) (h) or 2 (h); and

(b) the arrangement or transaction was, or in the opinion of the Commissioner, is likely to be, taken into account in the assessment of the liability of the person to pay vendors recoupment tax,

the Commissioner shall, notwithstanding section 16 of the Assessment Act, disclose to the person all information (including the identities of the parties to the arrangement or transaction) known to the Commissioner that is relevant to that liability and relates to the arrangement or transaction.

Section 3 (12) of the principal Act should, in my opinion, be retained, and I gave my reasons in the second reading debate. If it is retained, section 4 (5) also needs to be retained. In any event, if section 3 (12) is repealed, the provision merely requires the Commissioner to disclose all information known to him that is relevant to the tax liability and relates to the arrangement or transaction. Because the actions of the purchasers or sub-purchasers after the date of sale have given rise to the tax liability about to fall on the vendor, it seems only fair and reasonable that he should be able to obtain from the Commissioner of Taxation any information available as to what happened to the company after the sale.

The other matter I wish to raise concerns clause 18 of the Bill which proposes to amend section 21 of the principal Act by restricting the interest free payment period to 12 months instead of 12 months or 'such longer period as the Commissioner in special circumstances determines'. It seems that the Government is prepared to give the Commissioner discretion whether he should print names in his annual report, but it seems that so far at least it is not prepared to allow that discretion to remain with the Commissioner. It seems unfair for the additional words to be deleted; they are available only where special circumstances exist and where the Commissioner so determines. The Act is retrospective and payment of the tax has not been planned for. The tax saving made by the vendor in the year of sale has in many cases been lost in subsequent business operations, for example, investment in land, the value of such investments having subsequently dropped substantially. The power of the Commissioner to extend the repayment period should be retained for, in the words of the principal Act, 'special circumstances'.