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Biannual hearing with Commissioner of Taxation
Joint committee
Friday, 3 October 2008
Biannual hearing with Commissioner of Taxation

CHAIR (Ms Grierson) —As chair of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit I welcome everybody here this morning to the committee’s fourth biannual meeting with the Commissioner of Taxation. These meetings serve a number of purposes. From the parliament’s perspective we are able to ask the Taxation Office to account for its actions and explain its decisions. The Taxation Office has an opportunity to put its side of the story on tax issues. It can also make suggestions about what government, legislators and the community can do to make the tax system work better. Finally, members of the public can learn more about how their tax dollars are spent and how their tax dollars are collected.

Some of the developments in tax administration since our last meeting with the commissioner in April include the report by the US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on tax haven banks and US tax compliance; the Australian National Audit Office’s performance audits on tax havens and data matching; the release of the Taxation Office’s compliance program for 2008-09, which focuses on offshore tax havens, organised crime and small business compliance; the Inspector-General of Taxation’s review of GST audits of large taxpayers; and I also draw attention to this committee’s report on tax administration.

I remind participants that the committee will be looking at policy and administration matters. We are not seeking to act as a review panel for any individual case studies or grievances with the Taxation Office. We understand that the ATO, by law, cannot disclose details of an individual’s tax matters.

Before beginning I advise witnesses that the hearings today are legal proceedings of the parliament and warrant the same respect as proceedings of the House itself. The giving of false or misleading evidence is a serious matter and may be regarded as a contempt of parliament. The evidence given today will be recorded by Hansard and will attract parliamentary privilege.

I formally welcome the members of our committee. You will note we have some new members, particularly Mr Briggs, who is a new member to our committee. Since we last met there have certainly been further additions to our committee. We have Senator Feeney from Victoria, Mr Neumann and Senator Boyce from Queensland, Ms Bishop, Mr Bradbury and me from New South Wales.

[11.09 am]