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Tuesday, 5 June 1984
Page: 2566

Senator Walsh —On 1 March 1984 (Hansard, pages 218-9) Senator Haines asked me, as the Minister representing the Treasurer, the following question without notice:

Is the Minister representing the Treasurer aware of an anomaly in the Income Tax Assessment Act recently noted in the report entitled 'A Maintenance Agency for Australia' prepared by the Family Law Branch of the Attorney-General's Department? The report states:

'The ITAA now provides, by paragraph 23 (1), that income by periodic payments of alimony or maintenance received by a woman from her husband or former husband is exempt from income tax.'

This is because the income is assessable in his hands and he is not allowed the payments as a deduction-which is fair enough. The problem arises because, as the report points out, in cases 'where alimony or maintenance is received by a man from his former wife, there is no exemption from tax for the payments in the husband's hands, while the paying wife is also taxed in respect of the same money as it is income in her hands'.

Is this assessment of paragraph 23 (1) correct? If so, does the Minister agree that this failure to confer an apparent benefit upon a man in the same circumstances in which it is conferred upon a woman is one of the few cases of sexual discrimination against men in this country? If so, will he approach the Treasurer with a view to having that part of the ITAA duly amended so that both sexes are treated equally and maintenance is not taxed in the hands of the recipient, whether that person is male or female?

The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

The Commissioner of Taxation, who is responsible for the administration of the income tax law, has confirmed that the interpretation of paragraph 23 (1) of the Income Tax Assessment Act noted in the report to which the honourable Senator referred, in that it applies to exempt only periodical payments in the nature of alimony or maintenance to a woman from her husband or former husband, is correct . The Commissioner has also confirmed that any such payments by a wife or former wife, being of an income nature and not specifically exempted, would be assessable to the man.

The operation of this exemption is under consideration as part of a review being conducted of all the tax laws in the light of the objects of the Sex Discrimination Act 1984.


Senator Walsh —On 8 May 1984 ( Hansard, page 1747) Senator Colston asked me, as the Minister representing the Treasurer, the following question without notice:

I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. My question has been prompted by the disclosure that the General Manager of the Queensland State Government Insurance Office Building Society, Mr Ashley Goldsworthy, received a loan of $121,303 at a concessional interest rate of 8 per cent. At that time the commercial lending rate was about double that figure. Is it normal for low interest loans to be part of a remuneration package for executives of banks and building societies, as Mr Goldsworthy suggests? Is the concessional part of any such loan regarded as income and taxed accordingly?

The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

The Commissioner of Taxation has stated that he is unaware of the precise terms of Mr Goldsworthy's statement and, to that extent, he is unable to comment on it . He has said, nevertheless, that he is aware that employees in the banking and finance industry can and do receive low interest loans from their employers.

There is a long standing provision in the Income Tax Assessment Act, paragraph 26 (e), which includes in assessable income the value to a taxpayer of all benefits, allowances, etc. received in respect of, or for or in relation directly or indirectly to, any employment or services rendered by the taxpayer. Whether a low interest loan provided by an employer would result in a benefit to a taxpayer would depend upon the particular facts of each case. It is the responsibility of each employee to include in his income tax return form the value of any benefits so received.