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Thursday, 15 May 2014
Page: 2748

Senator RYAN (VictoriaParliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education) (13:11): I have some brief comments to make regarding this bill. Schedule 1 contains three amendments to the operation of the Farm Management Deposit Scheme that aim to enhance its ability to help farmers cope with the difficulties inherent in primary production. These amendments are made through the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 and the Banking Act 1959. The first amendment is to facilitate the consolidation of farm management deposits across different financial institutions. The second is to raise the non-primary production income threshold. The third is to exempt farm management deposits from the unclaimed moneys provisions. These amendments will help increase the financial viability of Australian farms, increase the number of farmers who can make use of the scheme and enhance its scope for those who already use it as an important tool in their farm finances.

Schedule 2 amends the GST law to allow taxpayers to self-assess whether they are entitled to a refund by reference to ascertainable and objective criteria rather than by having to rely on the Commissioner of Taxation to exercise the discretion to refund an excess amount of GST. Schedule 2 to this bill also amends the GST law to address the gap in the existing law relating to refunds associated with the calculations of GST payable on a supply.

These amendments provide that refund provisions apply to overpayments of GST irrespective of whether the overpayment arises as a result of mischaracterisation or miscalculation of the GST payable. These amendments only apply on a prospective basis from the date of commencement in order to minimise the uncertainty and compliance costs involved in the application of amendments on a retrospective basis. These provisions are intended to prevent taxpayers from receiving a windfall gain of overpaid GST and to encourage suppliers to refund their customers for overpaid GST.

Schedule 2 also amends the Taxation Administration Act 1953 to restore taxpayers review rights under existing refund provisions following a recent decision of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

I commend the bill to the Senate.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.