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24 Sep 10 Preamble - Friday 24 September 2010

Federal Parliament is set to resume on Tuesday 28 September and the first order of business will be to elect a Speaker of the House of Representatives.  Normally a simple task of the Government nominating one of its members to the chair and the vote proceeding as planned, the debates around who should be nominated and from which party, as well as the Constitutional validity of pairing the Speaker's votes in divisions will no doubt continue into next week.  Neither side is keen to lose a voting member from the finely balanced parliamentary makeup.

All of this makes for much colour and noise on the political front, but the Government will soon need to refocus on the key policy positions that it announced in the lead-up to the election.

For tax, the policy agenda includes:

  • a tax summit to discuss the Henry Review and tax reform (including, we argue, the GST) by July 2011;
  • a standard deduction for work-related expenses and the cost of managing tax affairs ($500 from 1 July 2012 rising to $1,000 in 2013);
  • a 50 per cent discount for interest income up to $1,000 from 1 July 2012;
  • reducing the company tax rate to 29 per cent from 1 July 2013, with small businesses benefiting from 1 July 2012;
  • instant write-offs up to $5,000 for small businesses from 1 July 2012;
  • extension of the education tax rebate;
  • tax breaks for green buildings;
  • a minerals resource rent tax from 1 July 2012 and an expanded petroleum resource rent tax;
  • a reshaped and boosted Board of Taxation; and
  • a Tax System Advisory Board to shape Tax Office corporate governance.

With regard to the Tax System Advisory Board, the government will conduct a detailed consultation with the community this year.  This proposal is a good addition to business and taxpayer input into Tax Office decision making and culture.  The Board will inform the Commissioner on issues such as strategy, direction, organisation, management, staff profile and IT plans at the Tax Office.  The Taxation Institute looks forward to actively participating in the consultation on the Board to ensure it becomes an effective, in-built voice in tax policy and administration processes.

Please see below for details of other activities this week.

Kind regards
Robert Jeremenko FTIA

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