Senate debates

Tuesday, 14 August 2018


Consideration by Estimates Committees

4:11 pm

Photo of Rex PatrickRex Patrick (SA, Centre Alliance) Share this | Hansard source

I seek leave to amend general business notice of motion No. 937 standing in my name for today concerning an order relating to company tax returns.

Leave granted.

I move the motion as amended:

That the Senate:

(a) notes that:

  (i) on 30 May 2018, at an estimates hearing of the Economics Legislation Committee (the Committee), Senator Patrick asked the Australian Tax Office (ATO) whether Goldman Sachs' Australian entities had filed a tax return between 2000 and 2012,

  (ii) in responding to the Committee, the Commissioner of Taxation submitted that information about identifiable taxpayers is subject to public interest immunity and that tax return lodgement information of the kind sought is "protected information" under taxation confidentiality laws in Division 355 of Schedule 1 to the Taxation Administration Act 1953,

  (iii) this is not an accepted ground of public interest immunity – the Senate derives its inquiry powers directly from the Constitution,

  (iv) section 355-60 of Schedule 1 to the Taxation Administration Act 1953 places a legislative restraint on information being disclosed by the ATO to ministers "whether or not provided to a Minister in the course of, or for the purposes of or incidental to, the transacting of the business of a House of the Parliament or of a committee of one or both Houses of the Parliament", however, that provision includes a note that states "This subsection does not limit the operation of section 16 of the Parliamentary Privileges Act 1987 in any other respect" – that section continues to operate, for example, to enable taxation officers to disclose protected information to a committee of one or both Houses of the Parliament, and

  (v) in circumstances where a company does not lodge a tax return, they are in breach of the law, and their entitlement to any "unreasonable invasion of privacy" public interest immunity claim is extinguished; and

(b) orders the Commissioner of Taxation to provide to the Economics Legislation Committee, by 5 pm on 15 August 2018, information regarding which financial sector entities that at some stage between 2000 and 2016 had an annual turnover of $100 million or greater, and any related entities of those financial sector entities regardless of turnover, which:

  (i) did not lodge tax returns during that period, and

  (ii) did not report nil tax payable during that period.


No comments