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Australian Government Releases Forward Work Programme

Monday, March 1, 2010

Australia’s Assistant Treasurer, Nick Sherry, has today released the government's updated forward work programme, which outlines the consultation process for announced tax and superannuation measures, with a proposed schedule of reforms to be introduced in the current sittings of parliament.

The government publishes a forward work programme for announced tax measures at regular intervals during the year. Measures announced by the previous government, but which were not enacted, are included on the forward work programme as the government decides how or whether they should proceed.

"The publication of a forward work programme for tax measures provides greater transparency in the tax design process," Sherry said. "It allows for a more inclusive and meaningful consultation process with taxpayers and tax professionals."

"This forward work programme shows the government is consulting with the community as it gets on with the job of tax reform," he added. "Measures to be introduced in the current sittings of parliament are aimed at improving the operation of tax integrity rules."

Measures to be tabled or included in the remaining parliamentary sittings of 2010, which have gone through their consultative process, include reforms to the goods and services law to make a number of changes to the legal framework for the administration of the GST to reduce taxpayer compliance costs and to streamline and remove anomalies in the law.

Other measures to be introduced shortly are intended to extend the operation of the tax regulations to cover circumstances where a shareholder or associate is permitted to use company assets for free or at a discounted rate; and also extend the tax file number withholding tax requirements to closely held trusts and family trusts to ensure the beneficiaries of these trusts pay their fair share of tax on income from these trusts.

Measures to be introduced at later sittings encompass a reform of the tourist refund scheme; an amendment to the non-commercial loan rules to prevent private companies paying tax-free dividends to their shareholders; and a replacement of the research and development (R&D) tax concession with a simplified R&D tax credit. The government is also to canvass options to consolidate, streamline and improve the operation of the tax provisions designed to counter anti-avoidance.