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Tuesday, 14 September 1971
Page: 1285

Mr SNEDDEN (Bruce) (Treasurer) - I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

This is the second of 3 taxation Bills resulting from the agreement reached at the Premiers' Conference to transfer payroll tax to the States. The Bill contains provisions for the administration, assessment and collection of pay-roll tax in the Australian Capital Territory (including Jervis Bay) and the Northern Territory and will come into operation on the date fixed by proclamation as the commencement date of the Pay-Roll Tax (Termination of Commonwealth Tax) Act 1971. The Commissioner of Taxation will be responsible for administering the payroll tax in the Commonwealth Territories.

The provisions of the bill affecting the liability of employers to tax have been modelled on the liability provisions of the existing Commonwealth payroll tax law. They are substantially uniform with the corresponding provisions of the legislation proposed to be enacted by each State Parliament and will set out the basis of liability to payroll tax in the Territories while preventing double taxation of wages by the Commonwealth and the States. Broadly stated, an employer will be liable for tax under the provisions of the Bill on wages paid or payable for services rendered Wholly within the Territories, and on wages paid or payable in the territories unless those wages are for services rendered wholly within one State. Under the present Commonwealth law, an employer who is liable for payroll tax is required to lodge returns of wages paid each month and to pay the tax due on each return. A statutory exemption from tax of wages up to $20,800 per annum, equivalent to $1,733.33 per month, is allowed.

With the entry of the states into the payroll tax field, the overall exemption allowable to an employer will remain unchanged at $1,733.33 per month. An employer who is liable to lodge returns under this Bill and is also liable to tax in one or more States will be entitled to claim a proportion of the overall exemption against the wages liable to tax in the Commonwealth Territories. This proportion will ordinarily be ascertained by comparing the wages payable in the Territories with the wages payable throughout Australia. To meet the case of employers whose monthly wages fluctuate above and below the exemption level, the Bill provides for an annual adjustment of the tax payable by an employer, in line with the existing Commonwealth law.

The provisions relating to the collection and recovery of tax and other machinery provisions of the Bill substantially re-enact the corresponding provisions of the Commonwealth payroll tax law. However, the objections and appeals provisions have been modified to bring them into line with the relevant provisions of the income tax law. An employer who is dissatisfied with a decision or assessment of the Commissioner will be allowed 60 days for lodgment of an objection, instead of the present 42 days, after service of notice of the decision or assessment. Similarly the period within which an employer may request that a decision by the Commissioner on an objection be referred for review by a taxation board of review will be 60 days instead of 30 days as under the present law.

The Bill contains the usual provisions imposing obligations of secrecy as to taxpayers' payroll tax affairs on the Commissioner and his officers. At the same time it will authorise the interchange of information with the payroll tax authorities of the States and will permit the disclosure of information to the Commonwealth Statistician for the purposes of the Census and Statistics Act. The Statistician and his officers in turn are bound by the secrecy provisions of that Act. The technical features of the Bill are dealt with in the explanatory memorandum circulated to honourable members and I therefore do not discuss these details at this time. I commend the Bill to honourable members.

Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.

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