by Alan Thornhill
“Significant improvements” can be made in the way the Australian Tax Office deals with disputes, according to a new report.
However Ali Noroozi, the Inspector General of Taxation, who produced the report, noted that the ATO disagrees with a major recommendation, he had made.
This proposed that the Tax Office should separate its objection and litigation activities from its audit powers in the management of its most complex disputes.
In all, the IGT made 22 recommendations.
The Tax Office accepted the others, in whole or in part.
The Assistant Treasurer, David Bradbury, who released the report today, said the ATO is already working to encourage early settlement of disputes, where possible, and promoting the use of alternative resolution procedures, when disputes do occur.
The report says its 21 other recommendations are meant, broadly, to promote three objectives.
These are to:-
- Engage taxpayers earlier, in dispute resolution.
- Enhance the skills and understanding of both ATO staff and taxpayers and
- Identifying opportunities for continuous improvement in dispute resolution procedures.
The report can be found at www.igt.gov.au
by Alan Thornhill
Home building approvals fell 2.5 per cent in June, on seasonally adjusted figures just released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Total approvals last month, though, were still 10.2 per cent higher than those of June last year.
But the Bureau’s report confirmed that approvals for private sector houses are still weak.
These fell by 1.1 per cent in June and 7.7 per cent over the year.
Approvals for units, flats and other homes, apart from houses, fell by 4.5 per cent in June, but rose by 49.5 per cent over the year.
by Alan Thornhill
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has cancelled the financial services and credit licences of an investment advisory firm which had offices throughout Australia.
In a statement today, the commission said it had cancelled both the Australian financial services licence and Australian credit licence of Morrison Carr Financial Services.
ASIC said this had been done “after undertaking a surveillance of the business.”
It said, too, that the sole director of Morrison Carr Financial Services, Dennis Cardakaris, had also been permanently banned from providing financial services and engaging in credit activities.
ASIC said Morrison Carr had provided financial planning and credit advice through its network of 42 Authorised Representatives and seven Credit Representatives located in offices around Australia.
It noted that Morrison Carr has appealed to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal against its decision to cancel both the Australian financial services licence and Australian credit licence.
ASIC also said Mr Cardakaris also has a right to ask the Tribunal to review its decisions to permanently ban him from providing financial services and engaging in credit activities.
by Alan Thornhill
The Federal government has set back its target date for broad reforms of the ways in which income from trusts is taxed.
These broad reforms, originally slated to start from July 1 next year, are now, technically, to start from July 1, 2014.
However a new Federal election must be held before then and, on current polling, the present government is likely to be replaced, when that happens.
Despite that, the Assistant Treasurer and Minister Assisting for Deregulation, David Bradbury, issued a discussion paper today on this contentious subject.
He invited stakeholders to put their views on what he called options for a more workable approach for fixed trusts.
Mr Bradbury said the discussion paper addresses some of the uncertainties and complexities that taxpayers face under the current approach to the taxation of fixed trusts,
He said the government had already received substantial feedback from interested stakeholders following the release of an earlier paper on this subject.
There had also been extensive consultation with the community on it..
Mr Bradbury said: “The Government has listened to the message from consultations that a later start date is preferred, allowing more time to develop the law, and for industry to prepare for changes.”
The Government will release a policy design paper in September which will further develop options for a model for the taxation of trusts,” he added.
by Alan Thornhill
Should your next home be an apartment?
An increasing number of Australians are now making that choice.
In fact a spurt in multi-unit sales has now driven an increase in total home sales, for a second successive month.
There are many reasons for that.
Apartment living increasingly suits modern, busy lifestyles.
They are cheaper, and often more conveniently located, than traditional three bedroom homes, in comparable price ranges.
And there are some real bargains to be picked up, in the apartment market.
A new survey shows a 2.8 increase in home sales during June, driven by a 15.7 per cent jump in sales of multi-units.
That survey, by the Housing Industry Association, covered the activities of Australia’s largest volume builders.
But the jump in multi-unit sales was a bright spot, in an otherwise slow market.
Detached house sales continued their disappointing run in 2012, growing by only 0.7 per cent in June following a decline of 2.0 per cent in May,” the association’s Chief Economist, Dr Harley Dale, said.
But he added: “”It is encouraging to see a second consecutive jump in the sale of multi-units,”
by Alan Thornhill
Seeking help through a call centre can be a frustrating experience.
Especially when it’s over a complex, but critical, matter, such as your pension rights, or other social security benefits.
Centrelink, which deals with such calls, now takes about 150,000 queries a day, or roughly 38 million a year.
The Human Services Minister, Kim Carr, says most of these calls are processed fairly quickly.
That is, on average, within 12 minutes.
But with Australia’s population ageing, and new trends appearing, the service is coming under increased pressure.
Many pensioners, for example, now, are working part time .
And, of course, their earnings affect their pension payments.
So the questions they are asking, when they call Centrelink can be quite complicated.
Senator Carr says technical facilities are being upgraded, and more people are being employed, to cope with the increased demands, now being made on Centrelink services.
To deal with peak time this year Centrelink, he said, Centrelink had put on an additional 720 positions since March.
by Alan Thornhill
Party politics are not always pretty.
Mal Brough’s success today, in winning Liberal party endorsement for the Queensland seat of Fisher, shows that, once again.
The seat is presently held by the stood aside Speaker of the House of Representatives, Peter Slipper, who won it for the Liberal party, at the last Federal election.
There is, of course, a back story to Mr Brough’s victory today.
It is not pleasant.
Court documents have shown that a Slipper staffer, James Ashby, consulted Mr Brough, a former Howard government minister, before he accused his boss, Peter Slipper, of making unwelcome homosexual advances, towards him.
Mr Slipper has denied the accusation, but has stood aside from the Speaker’s chair, anyway.
Mr Brough insists that he, too, did nothing wrong, in his contacts with Mr Ashby, before the young staffer made his accusation against his boss public.
That might be so.
But it sits strangely, to say the least, with Mr Brough’s declaration today that he had set out to “win the respect” of local Liberals, before standing – against seven other candidates – in today’s pre-selection ballot in Caloundra.
He clearly succeeded in winning that respect.
But was there a plot to sink Slipper, so unpleasantly?
Mr Slipper, of course, had no chance of retaining Liberal party backing for the seat, after he accepted the Labor party’s offer of the Speaker’s position.
But there are more pleasant ways of responding to such decisions.
Besides, there’s an old saying in politics, which might apply here.
That is: “If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck.”
by Alan Thornhill
With reports of lay offs filling our television screens almost every night, it is hard to blame Australians for lacking confidence in the economy.
“Him today, me tomorrow?” is a very natural thought.
Yet, when the Nobel prize winning US economist, Paul Krugman, visited Australia, a few months ago, he admitted he was puzzled by the gloom he found here.
He saw that the Australian economy was performing so much better, on key indicators, than the US. and most other western nations.
That hasn’t changed.
But why aren’t we more positive?
Wayne Swan blames the media, saying it pays far too much attention to gloomy forecasts, produced by prophets of doom, like Access Economics, the forecasters who are predicting that Australia’s mining boom will be over in two years.
In this, Mr Swan is echoing an earlier Treasurer, Paul Keating, who habitually dismissed that group of serious, mostly ex-Treasury types, by repeatedly calling their venture “Excess Economics.”
With European debt issues still far from resolved, Mr Swan knows he is pushing uphill in his campaign to convince Australians that the Reserve Bank Governor, Glenn Stevens, is right.
Mr Stevens said Australia’s economic glass is well and truly “half full,” at least.
Mr Swan will push that barrow, once again, on Wednesday this week, when he delivers a memorial speech in Melbourne, for a former Industry Minister, Senator John Button, who died in 2008 (corrected).
We are able to tell you a little of what Wayne Swan is planning to say, then.
His central declaration will be : “ Our proven track record and our healthy fundamentals should be cause for optimism.”
That is, Mr Swan will say, we, too, should be “seeing the glass as half full.”
He’s been saying that for some time now.
But the Treasurer will add: “Now more than ever, it’s important that we have a constructive debate about our economy, rather than descending into damaging rhetoric that talks down our prospects and sells our country short.”
Mr Swan will say, too: “ With the right policies and decisions, we can create an Australia where all citizens share in the benefits of our prosperity, not just the fortunate few.”
Watch for it.
Alan Thornhill is a parliamentary press gallery journalist.
Private Briefing is updated daily with Australian personal finance news, analysis, and commentary.
Thursday December 5
The Dow Jones index fell 24.85 points to 15,889.80
The Federal government and the Greens have reached a deal, under which the cap on Commonwealth debt will be abolished
Qantas warns of another 1,000 job cuts, over the coming year
East Timor’s prime minister says he is shocked by the Australian Government’s decision to authorise raids on a lawyer and whistleblower who were set to provide evidence against Australia in The Hague.
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|Rio Tinto Fpo||66.000||-0.290||-0.44%|
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