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Thursday, 11 April 1957

Mr Ward d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

1.   Did a Sydney magistrate, in fining a grazier £100 on the 19th March last for having failed to lodge a taxation return, state that it was disgraceful that a well-known grazier with a taxable income of more than £8,000 a year had not paid income tax since 1951?

2.   If the facts are as stated, why was there so much delay in taking legal action for recovery against a man who had not paid any tax for the past six years?

Sir Arthur Fadden - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: -

1.   I have seen newspaper reports which appear to relate to the case mentioned by the honorable member.

2.   The furnishing to the honorable member of the information in respect of a particular taxpayer would transgress the secrecy provisions of the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act.

On this matter generally, however, I may say that the honorable member will not be unaware that when it is left to the administration first to discover default and subsequently to enforce compliance by legal process, long delays are sometimes unavoidable. I would, however, direct his attention to the penalties which the law provides for defaulters and which whatever time elapses before enforcement must eventually be met.

Mr Ward d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

1.   How many cases are known to the Taxation Department of taxpayers who have been in arrears with their taxation payments for (a) two years, (b) three years, (c) four years, and (d) five years or more?

2.   What is the total amount of taxation involved?

Sir Arthur Fadden - The answer to the honorable member's questions is as follows: - 1 and 2. Statistics which would enable a reply to be given to the honorable member's question even in respect of assessed tax are not compiled and could not be compiled except as substantial cost. Such figures if kept would not, of course, embrace those cases where taxpayers could be said to be in arrears because of inability to make Assessments on returns lodged or because returns have not been lodged. I have, however, the assurance of the Commissioner of Taxation that the activities of his staff in the matter of outstanding returns and outstanding tax have never been more energetic than they are at present and I have independent evidence of this activity from the constant representations made to me directly and through honorable members from both sides of the House to intercede with the Commissioner for extension of time for payment and lodgment.

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