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Thursday, 4 December 1986
Page: 3349

Senator SIDDONS(12.10) —I wish to speak only very briefly on the Taxation Laws Amendment Bill (No. 4). It is an important piece of legislation. The Senate's time is very pressing at the moment and I do not want to delay the passage of this Bill unduly. One aspect concerns me; namely, the increase in the filing fee from $2 to $200 for those wishing to contest an assessment before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. Under the Government plan, as proposed in this legislation, if the appeal was successful the $200 would be repealed. But $200 is an enormous amount of money for the ordinary Australian taxpayer. It will, undoubtedly, inhibit ordinary Australians from challenging the Commissioner of Taxation even if they do feel they have a very worthwhile case. Indeed, if the Bill goes through, many small people will be deterred from challenging assessments altogether and the Australian Taxation Office will be even more powerful than it is at present. The Taxation Office will be able to ride roughshod over the interests of pay as you earn taxpayers.

I propose, therefore, to move an amendment which will ensure that there are three different levels of filing fees for three different categories of taxpayers. I propose a $10 fee for PAYE taxpayers, a $100 fee for provisional taxpayers and a $200 fee for all other taxpayers. This will ensure that high income earners and companies will be deterred from making vexing appeals merely to delay the finalisation of their tax, but the majority of ordinary Australians who could have a legitimate query or complaint will not be inhibited from making appeals to the Administration Appeals Tribunal. I will be moving an amendment along those lines in the Committee stage.

I briefly want to touch on one other aspect. For a long time there has been an anomaly in the tax law which has cost the Government hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. Simply, the anomaly related to the fact that some companies had their balancing date on 30 June and other companies had balancing dates during the year. Without going into the technicalities, which are unimportant, the interesting thing to me was that officers of the Tax Office have, for many years, been trying to get action on this anomaly, pointing out the many millions of dollars that were being lost to revenue and were unable to get through the bureaucracy. I understand that the current Commissioner of Taxation, Mr Boucher, heard of this anomaly and in double quick time got the matter attended to. I take this opportunity to congratulate Mr Boucher, the Commissioner, and those officers in the Tax Office who finally got a very serious anomaly costing many hundreds of millions of dollars rectified and that takes place in this legislation.