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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 4 March 2008) . . Page.. 376 ..

petrol from $150 a day to $250 a day. I am not quite sure how we would ever rack up that amount of petrol usage. Again, it seems to me to be a perverse incentive.

The uniform treatment of wages and fringe benefits for payroll tax purposes is an easy one to support. We also support the grouping provisions introduced in this bill which ensure that businesses cannot abuse the tax-free threshold provisions by splitting parts of their company to form separate but still related entities. New South Wales and Victoria have this provision, and this is one case where the ACT is playing catch-up. It is pleasing to see that the ACT government does not intend to harmonise with New South Wales and Victoria in terms of exemptions for maternity and adoption leave, meaning that wages paid to primary carers for these purposes are not included for payroll taxation purposes in the ACT.

There is another related proposal which may come before the Assembly for commencement before July 2009. I am not sure whether we would support measures that New South Wales and Victoria have taken which limit exemptions for wages paid by non-profit organisations whose objectives are deemed to be wholly charitable, benevolent, philanthropic or patriotic, and where the person is engaged exclusively in that kind of work. All other wages paid by the non-profit organisation would be taxable. The fact is that non-profit organisations are non-profit. Often, these organisations have as part of their objects a clause stating that they should collect funds or do fundraising for the purposes of the organisation. Would that mean that wages for a fundraiser would be liable for payroll tax?

This is not on the agenda for today, but I would like to make it very clear in advance that we should watch this amendment carefully and ensure that we do not make it even harder for non-profit organisations to stay afloat. By the same token, we should be careful that organisations do not abuse their non-profit status merely to pursue the accumulation of assets or to push agendas which are intended to result in profits being collected by another corporate entity. In short, despite the motor vehicle allowance exemption, which we in the ACT do not have control over, we support the bill.

MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Business and Economic Development, Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Minister for the Environment, Water and Climate Change, Minister for the Arts) (11.18), in reply: I thank members for their contributions to the debate on an important piece of reform in relation to taxation, most particularly payroll tax. The Payroll Tax Amendment Bill amends the Payroll Tax Act 1987 to implement national payroll tax reforms as agreed by all states and territory treasurers in March 2007. The bill also includes amendments to the Taxation Administration Act 1999 which are consequential to the Payroll Tax Act amendments.

The national payroll tax harmonisation project makes certain aspects of payroll tax administration more consistent across the jurisdictions. The reforms address eight important areas of the payroll tax system, and these measures need to be in place now in order to provide adequate notice for employers to conform with the new regime. The rates of tax and tax-free thresholds are excluded from consideration to allow jurisdictions to continue to make individual policy decisions, as these impact on the budget and on the number of businesses or groups that are liable for the tax. These issues will continue to be dealt with independently.

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