The mammoth list of unlegislated tax measures has long been a cause of real concern for tax professionals and again it seems to be getting some traction in the media.
The Tax Institute has been the leading advocate for action to address the growing length of this 'unenacted' tax law list - a list that the Department of Treasury admits now exceeds 120 revenue measures.
The stockpile of outstanding tax changes is fuelling uncertainty in the business community and hampering investment.
Business confidence has been eroded by a tax system that is constantly being built and rebuilt on shifting sands. Uncertainty creates confusion amongst taxpayers as to the appropriate manner in which to treat a range of planned transactions. This uncertainty requires affected taxpayers to in some cases simply guess what the likely tax law will be. This outcome heightens the tax risk profile of the taxpayer, which in turn causes unnecessary compliance and resourcing costs.
Tax professionals welcome Treasurer Hockey’s public commitment to providing greater clarity in relation to the unlegislated tax law list. New Assistant Treasurer, Senator Arthur Sinodinos AO, will no doubt be closely involved in this work. The Senator’s long-standing interest in policy development provides him a strong platform from which to tackle this major legislative backlog.
Successfully doing so must be a top priority of the new Government.
Robert Jeremenko CTA is Senior Tax Counsel of The Tax Institute.
The Tax Institute is Australia’s leading professional association in tax. Its 13,000 members include tax agents, accountants and lawyers as well as tax practitioners in corporations, government and academia.