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Taxing the Bull by the Horns: Reforming Australia's cross-border GST rules.


Against a backdrop of the global financial crisis, the significance of Budget Night 2009 for Australia’s GST was dwarfed, if not completely eclipsed, by other spending, borrowing, and taxation measures. But to GST experts, 12 May 2009 marks the first time since its introduction that significant reviews of the policy and design of Australia’s GST have been commenced. This paper is concerned with the subject matter of one of those reviews: the review by the Board of Taxation of the GST treatment of cross-border transactions. The author was amongst those who had repeatedly recommended changes to Australia’s GST cross-border jurisdictional rules and this paper explains the reasons for making such recommendations, which relate primarily to the over-inclusion of non-residents in the tax net. Indeed, the press release announcing the Board of Taxation’s review makes it clear that the role of non-residents forms the primary focus of the Government’s concerns. The Board has been charged with the task of seeking reforms to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the GST law and simplify its design while respecting the fact that GST is both a tax on final consumption in Australia and a multi-stage transaction tax.

Author profile

Prof Rebecca Millar
Rebecca is a Professor at the University of Sydney Law School. Professor Millar is an academic member of the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) advising Working Party 9 of the OECD’s Committee of Fiscal Affairs (CFA) on the development of international guidelines for GST and VAT cross-border services rules. She also works with the IMF and the World Bank, drafting VAT and excise tax laws and providing other technical assistance to developing countries. From 2002 to 2007, she was a member of the Australian Taxation Office GST Rulings Panel (later the Indirect Tax Rulings Panel) and in 2008, she was a member of the expert panel appointed by the Board of Taxation for its Review of the legal framework for the administration of the GST. - Current at 01 October 2009
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