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Payroll tax de-grouping


Payroll tax legislation invariably includes “grouping” rules, the effect of which is to group related employer entities so that only one threshold for wages is available for the group. In recognition of the broad ambit of the grouping provisions, they are accompanied by provisions that allow the revenue authority to “de-group” employers.

The purpose of this article is to take stock of the case law about the grouping provisions, and to suggest ways to assist practical compliance, principled decision-making and dispute resolution. The author also believes that it is important to consider group members’ exposure to others’ debts. The article discusses whether grouping and de-grouping amounts to taxation by discretion, with some suggestions concerning principled decision-making, recent case law about grouping and de-grouping, common taxpayer mistakes and misconceptions, whether the revenue authority asks the right questions when considering de-grouping applications, and recovery issues when part of the group fails.

Author profile

David Marks QC CTA
David is a commercial Silk at the Queensland Bar practising principally in tax. He has a broader practice in commercial litigation, trusts and estates, and administrative law. He contributes to the life of the profession through his committee work for The Tax Institute and other professional bodies. He is a Chartered Tax Adviser and a registered Trust and Estates Practitioner. He received The Tax Institute’s Meritorious Service Award in 2013. David serves on the disciplinary panel of an international practitioner association. - Current at 12 February 2021
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