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Wednesday, 16 December 1914

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister of Defence) . - I move -

That this Bill he now read a second time.

This Bill resembles the Land Tax Assessment Act in its relation to the measure which we passed this afternoon. It provides the machinery for the assessment and collection of the duty, and, fulfilling a similar purpose, it is very largely based on the Land Tax Assessment Act ; in fact, many of its clauses are almost identical with provisions in that Act. The Bill levies a duty on the estates of persons dying after the commencement of the Act. The duty is levied in the form of a percentage on the total value of an estate after deducting the debts and charges on the estate and the amount due for probate and succession duties payable under the State Act. A very important portion of the Bill is that which deals with what is " property " in a deceased estate. It may be set out in this way: - 1. Real property in Australia. 2. Personal property wherever situated if the deceased was domiciled in Australia. 3. Personal property in Australia where the deceased was not domiciled in Australia. 4. Property which passes by a gift or settlement within one year of the death of the deceased.

Senator Keating - Are you quoting from the Bill?

Senator PEARCE - No, I am quoting from a statement setting out what is " property."

Senator Keating - There is no definition of " property " in the Bill.

Senator PEARCE - I do not think ti i at there is.

Senator Millen - Clause 8 states what an estate comprises.

Senator PEARCE - There is a definition of " estate." This is practically a summary of the Bill, setting out what the estate consists of.

Senator Keating - Then you are really quoting from the Bill?

Senator PEARCE - No.

Senator Keating - Well, from a copy of what is contained in clause 8. Is not that so ?

Senator PEARCE - It is not an exact copy of the Bill, but a summary of it. Property includes: - 5. A life interest surrendered to remainder within one year of death; and 6. A beneficial interest in property accruing to every person on and after the deceased by virtue of a settlement or grant made by the deceased. The duty is payable out of the personal estate, but if that is not sufficient the administrator may raise the balance by mortgage or apply to the Sigh Court for power to sell. If the duty is unpaid the Commissioner may apply to the High Court for power to sell sufficient estate to pay the duty. The remainder of the Bill deals with various questions of returns, assessments, objections, appeals, collection and recovery of duty and evidence, and in those respects it is practically a copy of the Land Tax Assessment Act. One feature of the measure is that so much of an estate as is left for religious, scientific, charitable and educational public purposes is exempt from duty. Where the widow or children or grandchildren of the deceased share in the estate, so much as is left to them is assessable, and liable to duty at two-thirds of the rate which otherwise would be paid. No duty is assessable or payable in respect to the estates of persons who during the present war, or within one year after its termination, die on active service or as the result of injuries received, or disease contracted on active service with the Military or Naval Forces of the Commonwealth, or any part of the King's Dominions. Those are the principal features of the Bill, and as it deals largely with machinery, it is one more for consideration in Committee than at this stage. It contains some minor exceptions, but no novel principles other than what are usually contained in State legislation of a similar character.

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