Wednesday, 2 December 2020
Australian Taxation Office; Order for the Production of Documents
(a) the Senate notes that:
(i) foreign-based ship operators must lodge an 'Overseas ships - voyage' return form with the Commissioner of Taxation where a ship carries passenger, livestock, mails or goods shipped in Australia; and that 5% of the amount payable to the operator is deemed taxable income,
(ii) in the 2015 income year the net tax paid by foreign-based ship owners was $13 million, in the 2016 income year the net tax paid was $13 million, in the 2017 income year the net tax paid was $11 million and in the 2018 income year the net tax paid was $13 million,
(iii) foreign ships compete with rail, road transport and domestic shipping for non-time sensitive freight business undercutting rates by up to 50% because they do not employ people under Australian work and wage conditions, they are not subject to government costs and regulation, and further, the auditing of 'Overseas ships - voyage return' forms is difficult, and
(iv) Australian jobs are being lost and will continue to be lost in the rail, road and Australian shipping industries because foreign-based ship operators have lower costs;
(b) the Senate calls on the Government to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure rail, road and domestic shipping transport businesses in Australia are able to compete on a level playing field with foreign based ship operators including making sure foreign ships pay the correct amount of income tax and that:
(i) information provided to the Commissioner of Taxation can only be used for a tax purpose pursuant to section 16 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 and this provision is copied in other tax legislation – tax secrecy laws protect information relating to people including corporate entities such as companies; however, there is no protection for de-identified information including statistics, and
(ii) the 'Overseas ships - voyage return' form that must be provided to the Commissioner of Taxation asks for 15 items of information, including the tax file number and other identifying information in items 1, 2, 4, 5, 12 and 14 of the form, and that none of this identifying information is sought in this order for the production of documents; and
(c) there be laid on the table by, the Minister for Finance, by Wednesday, 9 December 2020, information for each individual 'Overseas ships-voyage return' forms for 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 provided in relation to items 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 13 of the form (and which does not include information provided in response to items 1, 2, 4, 5, 12 and 14).
Question agreed to.