Services won’t improve, says union

Original article by Rosie Lewis
The Australian – Page: 6 : 6-Dec-19

The Community & Public Sector Union has criticised the federal government’s decision to streamline the bureaucracy. CPSU national secretary Melissa Donnelly warns that reducing the number of government departments will do nothing to improve the provision of government services. Donnelly notes that the Coalition has axed 18,908 public service jobs since it gained office in 2013, and she has urged the government to lift the average staffing level cap.

CORPORATES
COMMUNITY AND PUBLIC SECTOR UNION, AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY, AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER AND CABINET

Get lean: PM wields the axe

Original article by Simon Benson, Geoff Chambers
The Australian – Page: 1 & 6 : 6-Dec-19

The Coalition has reduced the number of federal government departments from 18 to 14 as part of a broader overhaul of the public service. Amongst other things, the Department of Communications will be merged with the infrastructure portfolio, while the energy and resources portfolio will be folded into the industry and science portfolio. Five departmental secretaries will be retrenched as a result of the overhaul, while sources have indicated that the Coalition also intends to slash the number of government agencies.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER AND CABINET, AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF COMMUNICATIONS AND THE ARTS, AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF INFRASTRUCTURE AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT, AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF INDUSTRY, INNOVATION AND SCIENCE, AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF AGRICULTURE AND WATER RESOURCES, COMMUNITY AND PUBLIC SECTOR UNION

$9b tax hole linked to Airbnb-style deals

Original article by Duncan Hughes
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 9 : 6-Nov-19

The Australian Taxation Office estimates that some property owners have undeclared income of more than $70,000 a year in earnings from short-term rental platforms such as Airbnb. This has contributed to an income tax shortfall of around $9bn. The ATO has used data-matching technology to compare income from tax returns with financial records provided by rental platforms. The ATO will write to home owners asking them to review their tax return, their income earned and the expenses they have claimed.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIAN TAXATION OFFICE, AIRBNB AUSTRALIA PTY LTD, STAYZ PTY LTD, HOMEAWAY.COM INCORPORATED, FLIPKEY, BOOKING.COM (AUSTRALIA) PTY LTD, IBISWORLD PTY LTD, BNBGUARD

Explosive, gobsmacking statements by Tax Commissioner raise serious concerns about democracy, the rule of law and cover-up

Original article by Ken Phillips
Self-Employed Australia – Page: Online : 28-Oct-19

Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan used an appearance before the Senate Economics Legislation Committee on 23 October to refute claims that the Australian Taxation Office can recover unpaid tax debts by taking money directly out of people’s bank accounts. The allegation was aired in advertisements funded by the ‘Right to Know’ campaign. Jordan says the ATO only takes action such as garnishee orders as a last resort, but there is documented evidence that the ATO emptied at least one person’s bank account and did not inform them of this until 10 days later. The ATO must be reigned in, but this is unlikely to happen until the federal government considers that the ATO is doing damage to it politically.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIAN TAXATION OFFICE, AUSTRALIA. SENATE ECONOMICS LEGISLATION COMMITEE

Watchdog to probe surge in tax debts

Original article by Damon Kitney
The Australian – Page: 1 & 2 : 28-Oct-19

The Inspector-General of Taxation & Taxation Ombudsman, Karen Payne, says her office will investigate the causes of a sharp increase in unpaid tax debt, which has risen from $19.2bn to $26.2bn over the last four years. Meanwhile, there was a 13 per cent increase in the number of complaints lodged with the IGTO about the Australian Taxation Office in the last year. This followed a series of media reports which accused the ATO of excessive use of garnishee notices to recover unpaid tax debts, particularly against small businesses.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIA. OFFICE OF THE INSPECTOR-GENERAL OF TAXATION AND TAXATION OMBUDSMAN, AUSTRALIAN TAXATION OFFICE

ATO seeks to bankrupt Huang Xiangmo

Original article by Neil Chenoweth
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 3 : 18-Oct-19

The Australian Taxation Office is seeking to have Chinese billionaire Huang Xiangmo declared bankrupt. Huang, who is at the centre of a New South Wales corruption investigation into political donations, is said to owe the ATO some $140.9m in tax; it will seek to take legal action in Hong Kong as part of its efforts to recover the money. Huang’s Australian residence visa was cancelled in December, and his lawyers claim that he cannot be the subject of a bankruptcy order as the ATO would need to show that he is "personally present or ordinarily present in Australia".

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIAN TAXATION OFFICE, FEDERAL COURT OF AUSTRALIA

Dodgy claims are declining, says Tax Office

Original article by Tom McIlroy
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 8 : 23-Sep-19

Increases to the low- and middle-income tax offset and the federal government’s $158 million income tax cuts package have prompted a jump in the early lodgement of tax returns. However, despite the rush by taxpayers to get their tax refunds as soon as possible, the Australian Taxation Office has noticed a fall in the number of incorrect claims for tax deductions. The ATO issued over 5.4 million tax refunds in the first nine weeks of the 2019-20 financial year, worth a total of $14.5 billion.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIAN TAXATION OFFICE

Tax office targets lawyers’ privileges

Original article by Michael Roddan
The Australian – Page: 7 : 22-Jul-19

The Australian Taxation Office is hoping a new industry code of conduct that is being developed with the Law Council of Australia and other professional bodies will lead to improved auditing of multinationals. The ATO is finding it difficult to conduct such audits because lawyers are making blanket claims that documents being sought are subject to legal privilege. ATO second commissioner Jeremy Hirschhorn says law firms have no interest in seeing privilege claims that turn out to be false, as this could put the concept of privilege at risk.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIAN TAXATION OFFICE, LAW COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA, COMMOTION SYSTEMS, COMMONWEALTH BANK OF AUSTRALIA – ASX CBA

Tax office wins fight over GST on scrap gold

Original article by Nick Evans
The Australian – Page: 23 : 5-Jul-19

The Australian Taxation Office has secured an important legal victory in its ongoing battle to withhold tax credits that were allegedly wrongfully claimed under a GST gold swindle. Deputy commissioner Jeremy Geale says the significance of its latest win in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal is that it was against a gold refiner, whereas the previous wins have been against gold dealers or scrap merchants. It is claimed that the swindle has cost federal Treasury over $1 billion.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIAN TAXATION OFFICE, AUSTRALIA. ADMINISTRATIVE APPEALS TRIBUNAL, AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF THE TREASURY

Legal privilege claims in 20pc of ATO multinational cases

Original article by Tim Pallas
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 10 : 27-Jun-19

The Australian Taxation Office has revealed that its push to crack down on tax avoidance by multinationals is being stymied by excessive claims that requested documents are protected by legal professional privilege. Deputy commissioner Mark Konza says that of the 122 audits of large multinationals that the ATO is currently undertaking, 24 companies have sought a blanket claim for legal professional privilege. This includes about 19,000 documents in one instance.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIAN TAXATION OFFICE