Australian Taxation Office details new commissioner powers

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Australian Taxation Office details new commissioner powers

The tax office has released more information on the government’s plan to give the commissioner of taxation statutory remedial powers to modify the operation of taxation law.

The new powers will also mean “reduced regulatory burden, more certainty and better outcomes for taxpayers”. In a statement, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) said the statutory powers will aim to provide a “more timely resolution of certain legislative problems” and “flexibility in dealing with certain legislative problems which cannot be resolved by way of interpretation”.

Speaking to Accountants Daily’s sister publication, Self Managed Super Fund (SMSF) Adviser, AMP SMSF’s head of policy and technical, Peter Burgess, said the new powers might be used in a number of circumstances, including where there are “technical inconsistencies in the law resulting in unintended consequences”.

“This will give the commissioner the power to make modifications to the law without going through the full legislative change process,” he said.

Mr Burgess added that he hopes the new powers change the way commissioner’s discretion works in relation to the excess super contributions tax.

“Under the current law, if someone exceeds their contributions cap they can apply to the commissioner for discretion to have that excess amount either disregarded or re-allocated but it does require the tax payer to show special circumstances exist,” he said.

“Most people in the industry agree that the special circumstance requirement is very onerous and perhaps doesn’t provide the protection that the law was intended to provide in terms of people inadvertently breaching the caps.”

While some may disregard the issue of discretion, given the new refunding rules for contributions SMSF trustees are still better off getting the discretion to have the excess amount re-allocated or disregarded since they avoid having to pay additional charges, Mr Burgess said.

“I think [the new powers] are a good news story for the industry: it’s all about providing more certainty and reducing complexity,” he said.

(Source – Accountants Daily)

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