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Wednesday, 2 November 1910

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) - - I desire to draw the attention of the Minister to the fact that the fine of 10 per cent, in the case of a late payment is likely to defeat its purpose. If a man exceeds the allowance of one month, and thereby incurs the penalty of 10 per cent., he will have no inducement to pay his tax within a reasonable period. I suggest to the Minister that if the words " per annum " are inserted after "per cent.," the fine will be cumulative.

Senator McGregor - We do not want to be too hard on the poor man.

Senator MILLEN - I suspect the Minister when he indicates the slightest desire to be even fair to the payers of the land tax. If a man has incurred the liability to pay the fine of 10 per cent., he will naturally say, " Instead of paying tomorrow, I shall wait two, or three, or four months before I pay, because the penalty will be no greater then than now." What I am advocating has been demonstrated by experience in New South Wales. In regard to the payment of rents and other payments to the Crown, we started with this penalty of a percentage, and it was invariably found that once a man had exceeded the time allowed he would withhold the payment until the last possible moment. When it was altered to a percentage per annum fine, however, a man was fairly prompt in paying up in order to save the accumulation of interest. Unless my suggestion be adopted, business men and others will have an inducement to defer the payment of the land tax until the last moment. If the words " per annum " are inserted, the penalty will grow day by day, as the laggard taxpayer refrains from paying. Otherwise, he will hang" on to the last moment, unless he has exhausted the patience of the Department.

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