Page 3988 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 23 November 1993

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MS FOLLETT (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (8.10), by leave: Madam Speaker, I present the Taxation (Administration) (Amendment) Bill (No. 2) 1993.

Title read by Clerk.


That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

This Bill is part of a series of proposals which the Government is seeking to implement to protect the ACT revenue from potential claims for refund of taxes paid, should the High Court hand down a decision adverse to the Territory in the Capital Duplicators case. The court has advised that a decision will be announced on 7 December 1993. An adverse decision potentially can affect the collection of all the Territory taxes on petroleum and tobacco products, liquor and "X" videos. Revenue from these taxes in the current year is estimated at $65.1m.

Many of the taxes imposed under Territory laws are recovered from third parties, either as direct charges or as part of the price. In the event that tax so collected is refunded, it should not represent a windfall gain to the taxpayer but should be returned to the person who bore the incidence of the tax, namely, the primary taxpayer's customers. The Bill therefore proposes amending the Act to ensure that, where a tax is charged or recovered from a third party, a refund is available only if the taxpayer has satisfied the Commissioner for ACT Revenue that the refund sought is in respect of amounts already reimbursed to those third parties.

The Bill also proposes that a tax paid under a subsequently invalidated revenue law should not be recoverable. Clearly, any tax liability should cease from the date a law is determined to be invalid. But the Government also believes that ACT revenue should not be jeopardised by changes to revenue laws unless such changes are made by legislation passed by this Assembly. Provisions to the same effect were passed by the New South Wales Parliament last week. The potential claims on the revenue in the absence of this provision are all the franchise fees collected by the ACT Government since self-government. This amounts to $202.4m.

The Government cannot stress too highly the importance of this legislation being in place before the court's decision is handed down. I commend the Bill to the Assembly and I urge all members to give it their full support. I present the explanatory memorandum to the Bill.

Debate (on motion by Mr Kaine) adjourned.

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