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Tax backpedal on political message



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MEDIA RELEASE<- r 1),

TAX BACKPEDAL ON POLITICAL MESSAGE

2 September 1998

The Tux Office has been forced to back down after staff rebelled against giving politicised advice to clients.

Tax Office staff were this week issued with material to provide in response u> questions on the Government’s tax plans. One such recommended response was:

“In developing the taxation reform package the Government took particular care to ensure that the new system would be fairer fo r families and those on low or fixed income. The new tax system has been designed so that any increased cost is more than offset by income tax cuts, increases in pensions and benefits and other compensation measures,"

^!PSU Tax Section Secretary Shane O'Connell said union members in u number of places called on management to withdraw the direction.

“Tax staff were annoyed that the direction was highly political and compromised their independence, particularly in an election period.” Said Mr O’Connell.

“Only three weeks ago the Tax Commissioner, Michael Carmody, wrote to staff tolling them they were not to respond to inquiries on the Governments tax plans” said Mr O’Connell.

Following staff outcry, the ATO is now telling its employees not to answer phone inquiries by quoting political messages. The advice regarding written correspondence is, howejver, yet to be revoked, i

“We aro waiting for the Tax Office to fully correct this situation, to ensure their written responses to inquiries do not become a vehicle for providing biased political commept to business.” Mr O’Connell said.

FOR FURTHER COMMENT AND INFORMATION:

Shane O*Connell, Secretary CPSU Tax Section ph (02) 9206 2233, mobile 0418 588 985, Pager 016 372 348.