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Thursday, 17 February 2000
Page: 13856

Mrs Crosio asked the Treasurer, upon notice, on 8 March 1999:

(1) Did the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) recently send a series of fact sheets on GST transitional arrangements, entitled `Important tax reform information', to businesses across Australia in an unaddressed A4 envelope; if so, (a) how many envelopes were mailed out, (b) what was the total cost of mailing the information packs, (c) what was the cost of printing the fact sheets and covering letter and (d) which Appropriation Bill covered the funding for printing and posting the information packs.

(2) What is the total cost, including staff salaries, of maintaining and monitoring the ATO's (a) World Wide Web site at and (b) faxback system.

(3) How many ATO staff are employed maintaining and monitoring the (a) web site and (b) faxback system.

(4) How many ATO staff are attached to the Tax Reform Business Education and Communication Project.

(5) What is the annual salary of each person referred to in part (4).

(6) What is the running cost of the project.

(7) Do other Tax Reform Project teams exist within the ATO; if so, (a) how many, (b) what are their specific responsibilities, (c) how many staff are attached to each project team, (d) what is each project's overall running costs and (e) which Appropriation Bill covers the funding for the project teams.

(8) How many GST fact sheets has the ATO produced in total.

(9) What are the titles of each GST fact sheet.

(10) What was the total cost of preparing the fact sheets.

(11) Which Appropriation Bill covered the funding for printing and posting the fact sheets.

Mr Costello (Treasurer) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:


(1) (a) 798,200 envelopes were mailed out in February 1999.

(1) (b) The total was $234,689.

(1) (c) $299,485.

(1) (d)Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 1998-99.

(2) (a) Expenses for the 1998-99 financial year were $1,103,620.

(2) (b) In relation to the ATO's faxback system, known as “A Fax from Tax”, expenses for 1998-99 were $148,700.

(3) (a) The equivalent of 2.5 ATO staff managed the website for the 1998-99 financial year.

(3) (b) The system is automated, and as such requires minimal staff time.

(4) As at 11 November 1999, 130 staff were attached to the Tax Reform Business Education and Communication Project.

(5) The salaries of staff are private.

(6) Details of running costs of all such projects are outlined in relevant Budget Papers, Portfolio Statements and the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook.

(7) Yes.

(7) (a) There are six major Tax Reform project teams in the ATO. The teams are responsible for Personal Income Tax, GST, Business Tax Reform Implementation, Australian Business Number, Pay As You Go and Withholding Reform and Excise. In addition, there are a range of sub-projects underway covering different elements of the tax reform projects.

(7) (b) Personal Income Tax has 6 sub projects -

Binding Oral Advice

Shorter Period of Review

Simplifying Personal Income Tax

Family Assistance Reform

Savings Bonus for Older Australians

Private Health Insurance Rebate

Goods and Services Tax (GST) project is responsible for aspects associated with the introduction of a GST including -

Legislation & Support for the Law

Registration & Liability Assurance


Workforce & Logistics

Business Education & Communications

Systems & Processing

The Business Tax Reform Implementation project is responsible for aspects flowing from the Review of Business Taxation. This project includes assisting in the development of business taxation policy, design and development of legislation and administration.

The Australian Business Number project is responsible for providing implementation, business and systems support for the proposal to rationalise identification of businesses. This project will also establish registers of income tax exempt charities and gift deductible entities.

The Pay As You Go (PAYG) and Withholding Reform project is responsible for provision of Client Account Infrastructure, matters associated with Withholding Obligation changes and establishing a new PAYG Income Tax Instalment System.

The Excise project has been transferred to the ATO from Customs and is responsible for Excise reform including: Tobacco; Alcohol; Wine Equalisation Tax; and the Diesel Fuel Rebate Scheme/Diesel and the Alternative Fuels Grants Scheme. It should be noted that at 30 June 1999 the Diesel Fuel Reform arrangements were not finalised. As such, no costs have been attributed to Diesel Fuel Reform in 1998-99.

(7) (c) All projects except GST, have overlaps between tax reform project activities and business as usual both within the ATO and with Customs in the case of Excise reform.


Staffing at 30 June 1999

Personal Income Tax


Goods and Services Tax

262. This compares with approx 645 full time equivalent staff who worked on Wholesale Sales Tax as at February 1999

Business Tax Reform Implementation


Australian Business Number


Pay As You Go and Withholding Reform




(7) (d) Details of running costs all such projects are outlined in relevant Budget Papers, Portfolio Statements and the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook.

(7) (e) Appropriation Bills (No. 1) and (No. 3) 1999-2000.

(8) As at 30 November 1999 the ATO had produced more than 10 million individual facts sheets covering 35 topics.

(9) I refer the honourable Member to the Members and Senators New Tax System Briefing Kit, which has been sent to her office containing all the Fact Sheets. Alternatively all the Fact Sheets can be accessed on the Tax Reform Website.

(10) The total cost will not be calculable until the completion of the implementation, because Fact Sheets are regularly updated and reprinted. As such, the cost is ongoing.

(11) Appropriation Bill (No 3) 1998-99 and Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 1999-2000.