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Thursday, 17 June 2010
Page: 3627

Senator FIFIELD (12:22 PM) —I rise to speak on the Tax Laws Amendment (2010 GST Administration Measures No. 2) Bill 2010. This bill seeks to implement some of the recommendations made by the Board of Taxation in its recent review of GST administration, namely the review of the legal framework for the administration of the goods and services tax. The aim of this review, and the accompanying bill, is to simplify and streamline the administration of GST in the areas of groupings, invoicing and rulings. The coalition supports measures aimed at simplifying and streamlining the administration of the GST and tax provisions, and we will not stand in the way of this bill.

The bill deals with three schedules. Schedule 1 seeks to adopt more principled and flexible rules for GST groups and GST joint ventures by amending the Taxation Administration Act 1953 and A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax) Act 1999, one of my favourites and one that I remember well. The schedule will enable entities to self-assess their eligibility to form or change a GST group or joint venture and need only notify the commissioner of their action before the due date of lodgement of the GST return for the tax period. As it currently stands, the commissioner must formally approve such changes. The first schedule also seeks to increase the flexibility of the grouping rules by allowing entities to form, change and dissolve a GST group or joint venture at any time during a tax period rather than needing to wait until the beginning of a tax period or unwinding transactions back to the start of a tax period.

Schedule 1 also seeks to enable entities to enter into indirect tax sharing agreements to limit their joint and several liabilities in respect of indirect tax law liabilities to a contribution amount agreed with the representative members for GST groups or joint ventures. This is expected to increase certainty for members in GST groups and joint ventures in relation to their exposure to group debts.

Schedule 2 deals with rulings. It seeks to include indirect tax rulings and excise advice in the general rulings regime. This is expected to address problems arising from not having an express legislative framework for GST rulings, no formal review rights and no framework setting out taxpayers’ rights and obligations. Under this schedule income tax rulings will be expanded to include GST, luxury car tax, wine equalisation tax and excise matters.

Schedule 3, the final schedule of this bill, seeks to introduce a more flexible set of requirements for tax invoices. It will allow recipients of supplies to disregard certain areas in the document intended to be a tax invoice, where missing information can be obtained from other documents provided to the recipients by the supplier. As stated at the outset, the coalition supports this bill.