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Friday, 22 May 1936

Bill returned from the House of Representatives with a message intimating that it had agreed to amendments Nos. 1 to 17 and Nos. 19 and 20 made by the Senate in this bill, and had disagreed to amendment No. 18, as set forth in the annexed schedule, and for the reasons assigned therein. The House of Representatives desired the reconsideration by the Senate of the bill in respect of the amendment disagreed to.

Reasons of the Bouse of Representatives for disagreeing to amendment No.18 of the Senate.

1.   That thu Commissioner should have the right to be informed in the first instance of all the grounds of objection that the taxpayer has to the assessment, so that he may have an opportunity to correct bis assessment if necessary before any appeal machinery is invoked.

2.   It would be most unwise to make such a practice possible seeing that the Commissioner would he denied the right of allowing the objection or of giving the subject-matter reasonable consideration.

3.   It is also an unwarranted extension of tho time which has hitherto been fixed by Parliament and regarded as a reasonable time within which a taxpayer should set out fully and in detail the grounds on which he relies for hi* objection.

4.   The royal commission recommends no alteration of the present practice. Paragraph 930 of the royal commission's report reads as follows : - 930. The taxpayer is conversant with the whole of the facts. The Commissioner on the other hand is dependent upon the taxpayer to supply him with these facts. We are assured that every facility is given to the taxpayer to discuss his case with the Commissioner before the time specified for lodging a notice of objection. It is then open to the taxpayer to discuss with the representatives of the department any new aspects of the case or facts that may have come to his notice, and, in that event, the department may settle the objection without recourse to the court. If the taxpayer neglects to avail himself of these opportunities, we think it is not unreasonable that he should be limited to the grounds stated in his objection.

5.   The amendment will encourage exploitation of the appeal provisions - in that it would enable a taxpayer to conceal from the Commissioner his principal ground of objection andexpose this principal ground only to the court or board.

6.   The present state of the law has been the practice since the inception of the act. The proposed amendment would represent a departure from an established practice which has worked satisfactorily for over 20 years.

In committee(Consideration of House of Representative's message) :

Clause 190-

Upon every such reference or appeal -

(a)   the taxpayer shall be limited to the grounds stated in his objection ; and

Senate's amendment (No. 18) -

After " objection " insert " and to such other grounds as the board or court hearing the appeal gives leave to add".

House of Representatives' message -

Amendment disagreed to.

Senator A.J.McLACHLAN (South

Australia - Postmaster-General) [12.32] . - I move - .

That the committee do not insist on the amendment, disagreed to by the House of Representatives.

This subject was discussed very fully by the State taxation commissioners and, in the interests of uniformity, the provision as originally drafted was agreed to. This morning I conferred with the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) and placed before him the views expressed by members of the committee. I informed him that the amendment is based on the legal practice of allowing pleadings to be amended. The Commissioner states that this amendment would not apply only to the court, and that the members of the Board of Review have not the advantage of the legal training . of a judge, who might allow objections to' be amended under certain conditions. If the board had been disbanded there would not be the same objection to allowing grounds of objection to be amended; a clause could be so framed as to allow the tribunal to permit an amendment under certain conditions. In a court an amendment of pleadings may be arranged on terms, and a party to the proceedings may be asked to pay costs up to a certain point. The Income Tax Board of Review, before which objections might be placed consists of laymen, and, in these circumstances, I do not think that justice could be done so effectively as in a court of law. In some instances persons think that they have additional grounds of objection which should be brought forward, and if an application for permis sion to amend the objections were being heard before a judge, justice could be done. However, the matter will again be reviewed by Sir David Ferguson, who is still giving valuable assistance in this matter. If the Board of Review is disbanded the various governments will consider whether greater elasticity cannot be provided for. For the reasons given I ask the committee not to insist on the amendment.

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