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Monday, 21 May 2012
Page: 4912

Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongMinister for Financial Services and Superannuation and Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations) (16:37): I thank those members who have contributed to this debate on the Tax and Superannuation Laws Amendment (2012 Measures No. 1) Bill 2012. Schedule 1 seeks to maintain the existing GST treatment for third-party procured GST-free health supplies. These amendments ensure that a health supply by a healthcare provider paid for by an insurer, statutory compensation scheme operator, compulsory third-party scheme operator or government entity under a health-funding arrangement is treated as GST-free supply to the extent that the underlying supply from the healthcare provider to the individual is a GST-free health supply. This will avoid increased compliance costs that would otherwise arise for taxpayers and multiparty arrangements involving supplies of health related goods and services. These amendments will apply from 1 July 2012.

Schedule 2 clarifies the GST treatment of government appropriations following the 2009 full Federal Court decision in the TT-Line case. These amendments will ensure that the non-commercial activities of government related entities are not subject to GST. These amendments ensure that government entities do not face an increase in compliance costs, and do not have to change their budgetary processes and practices. These amendments will also apply from 1 July 2012.

The amendments contained in Schedule 3 amend the tax law to pause the indexation of the superannuation concessional contributions cap for one year. This change will generate budgetary savings while at the same time maintaining a cap which continues to provide an incentive for individuals to contribute over and above the mandatory superannuation guarantee contributions.

Schedule 4 gives eligible individuals the option of excess concessional contributions being taken out of their superannuation fund and assessed at marginal tax rates, rather than incurring the potentially higher effective rate of excess contributions tax. This measure will make the concessional contributions caps fairer and is expected to benefit just over 30,000 individuals over the forward estimates period. The Australian Tax Office will handle the majority of the administration process to minimise the additional compliance costs on funds and individuals.

Schedule 5 includes a further exception to the secrecy provisions in division 355 of schedule 1 of the Taxation Administration Act 1953. This measure is part of a broader package of superannuation measures aimed at making it easier for superannuation funds and their beneficiaries to locate and consolidate unnecessary and lost superannuation interests and benefits. This measure will allow the ATO to disclose superannuation information to superannuation entities, and exempt public sector superannuation schemes, retirement savings account providers and their administrators.

Schedule 6 delivers on one of the central elements of the government's Securing Super package, announced during the 2010 election campaign. It requires employers to report to employees on pay slips not only how much super they will be paying but also when they plan to pay it. The measure comes into force on a date to be set by proclamation. This measure will give employees more information about their superannuation contributions. Employees will know when they can check their funds that their contributions have been made. This is very important because the system depends crucially on employees monitoring their contributions. If employees identify unpaid contributions earlier, the ATO can take compliance action more quickly and is more likely to recover the unpaid super.

The government will give serious consideration to the recommendation from the House of Representatives Economics Committee that it would be more efficient to have a single commencement date which would provide for the reporting of actual contributions. The committee concluded that if the industry can meet the 1 July 2013 deadline for introducing the reporting of actual contributions then the government should cease plans for interim reporting. However, if the industry cannot meet the proposed 1 July 2013 deadline for actual reporting then in this case interim measures would have to be considered.

Schedule 7 protects the integrity of the tax refund system by providing the commissioner with the ability to delay refunding amounts where it would be reasonable to verify information provided by the taxpayer. These changes seek to strike a balance between a taxpayer's right to receive a prompt refund and the commissioner's obligation to ensure the integrity of the tax refund system. These amendments will ensure that the commissioner is able to properly investigate claims where he suspects that the amount claimed might be incorrect, including due to carelessness, recklessness or fraud.

The amendments also preserve taxpayer rights by requiring the commission to notify the taxpayer if he decides to delay refunding the amount and allow the taxpayer to object if the commissioner has not refunded the amount after 60 days. These amendments will apply from royal assent. I commend this bill the House.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.

Bill agreed to.

Ordered that this bill be reported to the House without amendment.