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25 Aug 08 Release of Tax Design Review Panel's report

In a media release issued on 22 August 2008, the Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Competition and Consumer Policy, Chris Bowen, announced the release of the Tax Design Review Panel's report "Better Tax Design and Implementation". This followed the announcement by the Minister on 8 February 2008, of the appointment of a Tax Design Review Panel to examine how to reduce delays in the enactment of tax legislation and improve the quality of tax law changes.

The Tax Design Review Panel was chaired by Mr Neil Wilson of PricewaterhouseCoopers and comprised Mr Duncan Baxter of Blake Dawson and Mr John Morgan of the Victorian bar, along with representatives from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Treasury, the Australian Taxation Office and the Office of Parliamentary Counsel.

In conducting the review, the Panel examined:

  • options to reduce the delay between the announcement of proposed changes to tax laws and the introduction into Parliament of associated tax legislation;
  • how the quality of the law could be improved through enhanced community consultation, particularly in the development of tax policy changes prior to the announcement of specific changes; and
  • methods to increase community input into the prioritisation of changes to tax laws.
The Panel's report makes 26 recommendations that propose significant changes to existing processes for tax design. Mr Bowen said that the Government accepts in principle all the recommendations in the report.

“The Panel recommends more consultation at every stage of the tax design process including before the Government announces its decision to legislate and the establishment of a tri-partite team comprising Treasury, the ATO and the private sector to develop tax measures. By acting on the recommendations in this report, the government is delivering on a key election commitment to respond to community concern on the uncertainty created by the former government’s failure to implement tax changes in a timely way,” Mr Bowen said

The Panel’s recommendations will also mean greater transparency and include:

  • posting on a public website a summary of the issues that arose in consultation, and
  • publishing a forward work program of legislation.
The Panel also recommends that most measures should be prospective and introduced into Parliament within 12 months of their announcement with all retrospective measures introduced within six months of announcement.

This report also recognises that from time to time, there would be conflicts between the needs of consultation and drafting of measures for introduction, particularly in the case of integrity and Budget measures. In the case of Budget tax measures, of course, it would be the case that they would remain confidential until the Budget announcement.

For a copy of the Assistant Treasurer's media release, No 2008/069, 22 August 2008, go here

For a copy of the Panel's report, go here or here

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