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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 06 Hansard (Thursday, 5 May 2005 2005) . . Page.. 1839 ..

MR QUINLAN (Molonglo—Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development and Business, Minister for Tourism, Minister for Sport and Recreation, and Minister for Racing and Gaming) (10.43): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

The Revenue Legislation Amendment Bill 2005 amends the Duties Act 1999, the Land Tax Act 2004, the Rates Act 2004 and the Payroll Tax Act 1987. The amendments to the Duties Act are to make it possible for people seeking an exemption from duty on the registration of a motor vehicle to apply for the exemption in the place where the registration is processed. Currently, these exemptions must be evidenced by a certificate obtained from the ACT Revenue Office prior to processing the registration at an ACT government shopfront or the motor registry.

Under this bill, the power to allow an exemption has been given to the Commissioner for ACT Revenue. The commissioner may then delegate this power so that the ACT government shopfront and the Road Transport Authority staff can process exemptions at the same time as registration, with no requirement for a certificate. These amendments will commence on 1 July 2005, and counter staff will undertake the processing of delegated exemptions as soon as software changes have been made and training provided.

There are amendments to the Land Tax Act and the Rates Act that are administrative in nature. They affect the provisions that set out how to calculate tax and how to calculate interest on a refund of land taxes and rates. The amendments in this bill remove the requirement for these amounts to be worked out by the commissioner. The calculation may be made by an officer, as it follows a purely mathematical formula. This is consistent with the working out of rates under the Rates Act and it has no impact on taxpayers.

The major amendments to this bill are to the Payroll Tax Act. These amendments are intended to secure the revenue through expanding the definition of wages to capture the value of employee share schemes. An employee share scheme is an arrangement by which a corporation issues shares or options to employees, and to directors or others who are not technically employees, of the corporation. Shares in listed or unlisted public companies, or in private companies, may be received in addition to salary as performance incentive offers, in lieu of salary and salary sacrifice offers, as part of remuneration as a trade-off against other benefits under an enterprise bargaining agreement or contract or under a loan plan which is often at low or no interest.

In the ACT, employee share schemes are currently not included as wages for the purposes of the Payroll Tax Act unless they are fringe benefits under the Fringe Benefits Tax Assessment Act. Division 13A of the Income Tax Assessment Act, a commonwealth act, specifically excludes shares or rights acquired under an employee share acquisition scheme as fringe benefits and they are therefore not subject to payroll tax in the ACT or to fringe benefits tax. As well as the employer paying neither payroll tax to the ACT nor fringe benefits tax to the commonwealth on the value of the shares, the employee acquiring the shares may receive generous income tax concessions on qualifying shares.

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