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Wednesday, 9 February 2005
Page: 159

Senator Webber asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice, on 18 November 2004:

(1)   Is it correct that:


   on 18 January 1996, a Deputy Commissioner of the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), Mr J M Wheeler, determined in favour of a Queensland taxpayer who had been issued with an amended assessment for the tax year ending 30 June 1995 in relation to a tea tree project investment;


   in this determination, Mr Wheeler awarded the taxpayer a refund or credit of tax paid, interest and penalty; and


   on 6 December 1999, the same Queensland taxpayer was again issued with an amended assessment for the tax year ending 30 June 1995 in relation to the same tea tree project investment.

(2)   Why did the ATO renege on the determination of Mr Wheeler in relation to that investment.

(3)   Is it correct that the ATO is citing the decision in Commissioner of Taxation v Sleight (2004) FCAFC 94 as justification for action it has taken on agricultural projects structured in a similar way to those of Mr Sleight.

(4)   Given Mr Wheeler’s determination, why did the ATO decide on 21 December 2000 not to allow Mr Sleight’s objection to the amended assessment he received on 12 October 1999.

Senator Coonan (Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts) —As the question deals with matters administered by the Australian Taxation Office, I have asked the Commissioner of Taxation for advice. The advice to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:

(1) (2)   and (4) The Commissioner advises me that it is inconsistent with his responsibilities under the secrecy provisions of the tax law to provide specific taxpayer details.

(3)   It is the Commissioner’s view that deductions claimed relating to mass marketed investment schemes are not allowable. This view has now been upheld by the courts in five cases.