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Withholding tax scheme



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STATEMENT FROM THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE . SENATOR FRED CHANEY

The Opposition will seek support in the Senate for a Senate Committee investigation on the operation of the withholding tax scheme unless the Government gives adequate assurances.

Shadow Cabinet yesterday considered complaints from a wide cross section of the business community about the way the Government is administering the new withholding tax.

The Opposition is concerned about the apparent hard line being taken towards granting exemptions from the tax.

The principle that contractors and small businessmen with good tax records would be excluded from the new arrangements was central to our original proposal last year and the support we gave the legislation when it came before Parliament

It is claimed that exemptions will be virtually impossible to obtain, and that as a result, the ecash flow of many small business will be seriously affected, leading inevitably to closures and increased unemployment.

This is the last thing Australia can afford when the Government itself concedes that the number of people without jobs is likely to go on rising until at least 1984-85.

We will therefore be seeking assurances from the Government that the spirit of the legislation will be reflected in its practical application.

If we are not satisfied with their response we will seek a Senate Committee investigation of the administration of the tax collection scheme. This would enable the views of the business operators as well as the Government and the Tax Office to be publicly examined. In addition, notice

will be given to disallow the regulations implementing the Act when they come before the Senate. In accordance with usual procedure that would provide 15 sitting days within which to examine the operation of the regulations.

While the Opposition continues strongly to support the concept of a withholding tax as part of measures to counter tax evasion, it will not stand by and see honest people put at a disadvantage because of Government

intransigence.

Hobart/Canberra TO August 1983.