On 6 November 2013, the Government announced its intention to proceed with the previously announced measure to restrict GST refunds with some amendments.
The measure for restrictions on GST refunds had been announced by the previous government in a press release by the then Assistant Treasurer on 17 August 2012 and detailed in the 2012-13 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO). Draft legislation was released on the Treasury website for two rounds of public consultation in August 2012 and February 2013. Following this consultation, the measure was introduced into the House of Representatives as part of the Tax Laws Amendment (2013 Measures No 4) Bill 2013 on 26 June 2013, which lapsed when Parliament was prorogued on 5 August 2013.
The key changes to that earlier legislation have been to:
- restore rights of review for taxpayers following a subsequent finding by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) that it does not have jurisdiction to consider refund matters under the existing refunds provisions in section 105-65 in Schedule 1 to the Taxation Administration Act 1953;
- strengthen the integrity aspects of the provisions by clarifying that tax invoices are only prima facie evidence of amounts being passed on to another entity to the extent that the amount of GST ascertained from the tax invoice has been paid to the Commissioner of Taxation; and
- reduce uncertainty and compliance costs for industry by amending the measure to only apply on a prospective basis. Under the earlier legislation, the measure was to have applied for tax periods commencing on or after 17 August 2012 (the date of the original announcement of the measure) with exceptions for refunds claimed before the date of introduction of the Bill into the House of Representatives.
The Government is inviting submissions from all interested individuals and organisations. The consultation period reflects the fact that this measure has been consulted upon previously and there have been only a small number of amendments to the earlier legislation which lapsed when Parliament was prorogued on 5 August 2013.