Reforms To Community Consultation Processes and Agency Accountabilities in Tax Design

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May 1, 2002
Share Ownership; Mark Latham
May 6, 2002
M1 protests; Medical insurance; Baby Bonus; Mitsubishi; Japanese Prime Minister; Free Trade agreement; Essendon
May 1, 2002
Share Ownership; Mark Latham
May 6, 2002

Reforms To Community Consultation Processes and Agency Accountabilities in Tax Design




I am today announcing changes designed to enhance consultation on tax issues,

and a change in the accountability for tax legislation design.

In making these changes the Government has taken into account recommendations

of its advisory Board of Taxation. As a result of these changes, responsibility

for the development of tax legislation and regulations will be transferred from

the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to the Department of the Treasury.

Community Consultation

Consistent with its Charter to advise me on processes for community consultation

in the development of tax laws, the Board of Taxation last year commenced an

evaluation of how community consultation could be made more effective. After

extensive consideration, the Board provided a report to the Government on 13

March 2002.

The Government has decided to largely adopt the Board’s recommendations dealing

with consultation. The Board itself recognised that processes of community consultation

cannot be mandated for each and every change to the tax system, particularly

in cases where there is commercial or market sensitivity, or revenue or tax

avoidance sensitivity. Also the flexibility government requires in managing

the timing of policy change will at times determine the extent and form of consultation

that can be undertaken.

However, the Government has pursued a policy of widespread consultation on

Business Tax Reform. Including in areas such as debt/equity distinctions, thin

capitalisation, capital allowances and consolidation where it found it particularly


In continuing this process, during the development of future tax measures the

Government will be working from an in-principle position of:

  • consulting on all substantive tax legislation initiatives, except in circumstances

    as outlined above;

  • seeking early external input in the identification and assessment of high-level

    policy and implementation options;

  • seeking technical and other input from external stakeholders (including

    the Board of Taxation) in the development of policy and legislative detail;

  • thoroughly road testing draft legislation and related products prior to


  • ensuring policy intent for each new measure is clearly established and

    described by public announcement;

  • announcing for each new substantive tax measure a consultation process,

    with roles and responsibilities specified;

  • releasing an indicative forward programme of tax legislation; and
  • providing better feedback to external participants in consultation processes.

The Government also recognises that the consultation process, and the legislation

that results from it, should be reviewed periodically to ensure that the expectations

of government and external participants are being appropriately managed. I have

asked the Board of Taxation to undertake an ongoing role in monitoring the processes

of consultation, and have agreed to the Board conducting post-implementation

reviews of major pieces of tax legislation to ensure that government policy

intent has been effectively translated consequent upon consultations undertaken.

Such reviews could be in addition to, or complement, reviews undertaken within

the Treasury and ATO.

Legislation Design Role

From 1 July 2002, responsibility for the design of tax laws and regulations

will be relocated from the ATO to the Department of the Treasury. Treasury currently

has responsibility for providing tax policy advice. The transfer will bring

the accountability for tax policy and legislative design more directly under

Ministerial control. The change in responsibility will also reinforce the need

for whole-of-Government perspectives to be taken into account in tax law design


The new arrangements will see policy and legislative development brought together

within the Department of the Treasury, providing maximum opportunity for legislation

to be developed in a manner consistent with the policy intent set by Government.

Working arrangements between the ATO and the Treasury will ensure that the administrative,

compliance and interpretive experience of the ATO fully contributes to policy

and legislation processes.

I note the ATO’s considerable contribution to delivering the Government’s tax

reform agenda and the new arrangements will provide the ATO with the opportunity

to focus even more on its core business of tax administration.

I have asked the Secretary to the Treasury and the Commissioner of Taxation,

in consultation with the Office of Parliamentary Counsel as appropriate, to

develop arrangements that will give effect to these decisions. As the Board’s

report emphasises as one of its underlying recommendations, any new working

arrangements between the agencies in developing future tax measures should seek

to build on progress to date in ensuring a high level of integration across

the policy, legislative and administrative aspects of change.

The transfer of the legislation function to the Treasury will take effect from

1 July 2002. Details to give effect to the decisions on community consultation

will be implemented over the course of this year in the context of the new structural


I take this opportunity to thank the Board of Taxation for its considerable

work in preparing what is a very valuable report on community consultation processes.

The report will be available on the Board’s website at http:/

CANBERRA, 2 May 2002