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Dr Michael Dirkis, the Taxation Institute's Senior Tax Counsel, comments:

"In 2006 TAXVINE No 10 (25) (31 March 2006), Member 1 asked where did the Australian Financial Review of 23 March 2006 get the figures to make the claim that "Tax return fees blowout to $1bn", given that the ATO’s published statistics on this item (at the D 10 label) may also include other amounts such as interest on underpayment of tax. The Taxation Institute raised the question with the ATO.

At the ATPF meeting held on Friday 19 May 2006, the ATO confirmed that the D 10 label cannot be used to determine total return costs. First, the amounts at the label were only reported by individuals and there is no tax return form information in the case of non-individuals' claims for the costs of tax agent fees. Secondly, the ATO cannot separate the tax agent fees from the general interest charge (GIC) claimed at the label. Thirdly, given the level of GIC imposed in 2003-04 a substantial portion of the $1,106 million reported at the label could be GIC. Thus, the Australian Financial Review’s claim cannot be substantiated by the data submitted at label D 10."

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