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Wednesday, 26 November 1941

Mr SPOONER (Robertson) .- This bill introduces a principle which could be dangerous and unfair, unless its provisions were administered with great care. If a donor makes a gift to a donee, both the donor and the donee are liable to make a return, and are jointly and severally liable to pay duty. The donor is primarily liable and I suppose that in actual practice and experience,the donor in 99 cases out of 100 will pay the duty and that will he the end of it. Where he does not do so, either deliberately or inadvertently, the donee will be liable to pay the duty. As the Minister has said, the liability for the duty becomes the first charge on the subject of the gift, unless it be money or a negotiable instrument. The public must be made aware of that. A man could quite innocently be holding an asset which is surcharged with gift duty and not be aware that it carries this automatic charge. The Government has agreed, and the Minister has moved an amendment, to minimize that provision in an important respect. Where this asset, whatever it may be, has passed into the hands of a third person who has acquired it, without notice of the fact that there is a charge attaching to it, he is not liable for the duty. I think that that is the fairest way in which this provision can be administered. If a person buys something without means of knowing that there is a surcharge upon it, surely he should not be liable for the payment of duty. The amendment will give substantial relief from harsh operation of the law.

Amendment agreed to.

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