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Tuesday, 31 March 1987
Page: 1828

Mr DONALD CAMERON(10.35) —We have all become aware of the zeal that has been brought to the subject of taxation by the utterances of the Commissioner of Taxation, Mr Boucher, that the identification card system would not work or that his system would work better with an identification card. We also know about the preamble that he placed in the front of all the booklets that went out about fringe benefits tax and the like, his claims to the world about how marvellous these taxes were, how they would help everybody, et cetera.

Mrs Sullivan —A public servant did that?

Mr DONALD CAMERON —He is a public servant but he has played a political role. I note that in recent weeks, since he attracted some attention to those activities, he has gone relatively quiet on playing a political role. When members on this side of the chamber talk about the Australian Taxation Office getting its act into gear before an ID system is even contemplated, we do so with considerable justification.

I make representations on behalf of a constituent of mine whose former husband was killed in October 1984. The Australian Taxation Office wrote on two or three occasions to this deceased taxpayer. The couple were living apart before his death. Unfortunately, their marriage had not survived. Letters were forwarded to the widow by the person who later lived at the address at which the former husband had resided. This lady kept getting these letters. She wrote to the Taxation Office saying that her husband was deceased-killed in a road accident. The House can imagine the fright that she got last September when there was `knock, knock' on her door. I think it was September 1986. She went to the door to find a big policeman standing there. She said: `How can I help you?'. He said: `I want to see your husband'. She said: `Why?'. He said: `Because he has not paid his tax'. She said: `That is understandable because he is dead, and he cannot pay his tax'.

The policeman was very embarrassed, being a sensitive officer of the Queensland police force, and beat a hasty retreat. But you will not believe this, Madam Speaker. I have here four letters from the department that wants an ID card system so it can identify people. They are from the Taxation Office in Queensland. It wrote four letters. In one letter, the Office demanded tax for the year ending 30 June 1983. The deceased did not pay his tax that year for some reason that none of us can ascertain. Another letter to the deceased referred to 30 June 1984. About the time, that return was due, the poor man was dead. In another letter the Office wanted to know his income for the year ending 30 June 1985. In another letter the Office wanted to know the income for the year ending 30 June 1986. To indicate how the Taxation Commissioner treats ordinary people-even dead people-as compared with the way he treated the Treasurer (Mr Keating) I will read what is on the bottom of every letter. He says:

PLEASE NOTE THAT IRRESPECTIVE OF THE AMOUNT OF INCOME DERIVED, any person who fails to furnish a return by 31 August next following the year of income, or by such later date as is authorised, is liable to ADDITIONAL TAX which may be equal to double the amount of tax payable or $20, whichever is greater. If the return has been lodged, please advise the date and place of lodgment.

My poor former constituent cannot tell anybody, but I am telling the Taxation Commissioner that before he asks for an ID card he had better smarten up his whole system. On behalf of my living constituent I ask: How often do we have to tell the Taxation Department that a taxpayer is no longer alive?

Madam SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member's time has expired.