Speaking on an Accountants Daily webcast, Thomson Reuters tax consultant Terry Hayes said it was imperative that the government provide accountants and their clients with certainty over previous tax announcements, exposure drafts and consultation papers.
According to CPA Australia, there are over 80 such announced tax and superannuation policies, including notable measures such as the super guarantee amnesty, amendments to Division 7A and the removal of the CGT main residence exemption for non-residents.
“I would really like to see the Treasurer come out with a list, as has been done in the past, with all these issues, much sooner than later,” Mr Hayes said.
“It would be good to get a clear indication from the government on what they’ll proceed with, what they will delay, what they won’t do.
“I think what we are looking for is a clear direction. We’ve got all these measures, we know what they are, and we just want to know what the government’s timetable will be going forward.”
BDO tax partner Mark Molesworth also called for the government to provide certainty over the measures, noting that there was precedent in compiling such a list.
“Certainty of regulation is desirable in any society that respects the rule of law. As they did on taking office in 2013, it is now time for the Coalition to undertake a stocktake of all of these measures, regardless of which party first announced the measure, and announce those that will proceed and which ones will be shelved,” said Mr Molesworth in a Tax Institute correspondence.
“Further, for those measures that are to be proceeded with, a review of the effective date and a timeline for enactment should be provided.
“I would suggest that this exercise can only be done based on a proper and informed analysis of the need for the amendment contained in each announcement. Engaging the assistance of the tax profession, as was successfully done in 2013, should be seriously considered.”
Tax reform debate
BDO national tax director Lance Cunningham said that beyond a stocktake of all the measures, the government should now consider reigniting a serious discussion on tax reform.
“Previous governments have released that list of previously announced but unenacted measures and set out what they will do, and I agree we should do that again, but we should be asking the government to step further and look at a serious tax reform process and not just all these tinkering at the edges stuff that they’ve been doing,” Mr Cunningham said.
“We need possibly a tax reform commission or some separate body that permanently looks at tax reform issues. I know we have the Board of Tax at the moment, but that’s not really looking specifically at tax reform, and if we had a body that had the role of making sure all tax changes fit in logically and the methodology all fits in together, that would be a much better approach.
“It needs to be taken away from the election cycle and put into a body that’s not drawn into the electoral cycle.”