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  • GST Stewardship Group key messages 14 August 2019

    Welcome and introduction

    Co-chairs Deborah Jenkins and Kevin O’Rourke welcomed members, opened the meeting and noted the apologies. No conflicts of interest were declared.

    Minutes from the 30 May 2019 meeting have been published on ato.gov.au.

    GST international update

    A general update on the international landscape was provided with a focus on the differences in the European Union (EU), New Zealand (NZ) and Australian low value imported goods (LVIG) regimes. Topics discussed included:

    • both the EU and NZ jurisdictions follow the Australian model in respect of the deemed supplier model where digital platforms/market places are involved
    • overall, the EU and NZ administrative frameworks are different based upon their jurisdictional needs, but in principle are very similar to Australia
    • one of the ATO's key strategies is to work with other jurisdictions to shape our multilateral thinking to optimize relative consistency in VAT/GST administration for cross border transactions to promote voluntary compliance.

    It was acknowledged that the ATO needs to continue to monitor compliance with these measures.

    Deep dive: GST system in operation

    A general discussion about the GST system in operation took place which focused on:

    • improving the administration of GST
    • reducing the cost of compliance with the GST system
    • balancing the need to sustainably manage the tax gap.

    The discussion included members noting:

    • significant improvements to technology since 2013
    • businesses that have moved to a digital platform have found GST requirements easier to manage, however many others do not have the time to set this up
    • usage rate of paper returns and strategies to encourage digital uptake
    • the black economy risk is large by value, but small by volume
    • how the ATO identifies GST risks generally including from a client experience perspective
    • small businesses make up the majority of the GST population
    • tax gaps including the GST gap
    • the relative amount of GST payable by size of taxpayer
    • the possibility of rewriting the rulings including on tax law partnerships and general law partnerships.
    • level of staff training for certain topics
    • the application of Division 142.

    Outline of GST training

    Discussion about the ATO’s internal GST learning and development program noting:

    • generally, formal training represents 10% of the L&D program
    • staff have access to self-paced GST training packages, which consist of 1.5 hours to 10 hour modules)
    • webinars on general GST topics and face-to-face intensive training are being provided to staff previously focused only on income tax.

    GST Stewardship Group membership refresh

    The ATO is reviewing all ATO stewardship groups to understand how they operate and to implement standardised charters and rules of operation.

    Members:

    • discussed when the membership should be refreshed – every two years, but some industry organisations may be considered standing members
    • considered who the appropriate ATO representatives at meetings should be
    • acknowledged that small business representation is important.

    Forward work program

    Members discussed a possible forward work program, which included discussions on key GST risks and deep dives into public advice and guidance, and the ATO’s four pillars – registration, lodgment, correct reporting and payment. Members were asked to consider other items for discussion.

    Members agreed to include for each meeting the following standing agenda items:

    • administration – to confirm previous meeting key points and review action items
    • Treasury update
    • GST new measures update.

    Other business

    Other items as follows:

    • The ATO confirmed the trial use of the GST Analytical Tool for justified trust reviews does not extend to the property and financial services industries.
    • Members suggested the ATO could consider providing clients with early notification and details of expectations during the request for information four month lead time.
    • The ATO advised work to finalise the draft Miscellaneous Taxation Ruling MT 2018/D1 is still in progress. Comments are being considered in addition to current litigation which may impact on the views set out in the draft ruling. Members raised concerns about the delay and noted administrative workarounds are being used.
    • Treasury advised GST on sales of Australian accommodation though offshore sellers will be applied retrospectively – consultation closed 14 August 2019.

    Meeting close

    The next meeting is scheduled for 27 November 2019 in Sydney.

    Attendees

    Attendees are listed below.

    Organisation

    Members

    ATO

    Deborah Jenkins (Co-chair), Small Business

    ATO

    Gordon Brysland, Tax Counsel Network

    ATO

    Adam Johnson, Small Business

    ATO

    Adrian Preston-Loh, Public Groups and International

    ATO

    Andrew Orme, Tax Counsel Network

    ATO

    Hoa Wood, Tax Counsel Network

    ATO

    Megan Croaker, Public Groups and International

    ATO

    Sandra Farhat, Public Groups and International

    Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand

    Kevin O’Rourke (Co-chair)

    Coles Finance

    George Nikolaou

    Corporate Tax Association

    Paul Suppree

    CPA Australia

    Ken Fehily

    Law Council of Australia

    Andrew Sommer

    Property Council of Australia

    Andrew Howe

    States and Territories

    Giles Wilmer

    The Tax Institute

    Bastian Gasser

    Treasury

    Jamie Roberts

    Treasury

    Susan Bultitude

    Apologies

    Apologies are listed below.

    Organisation

    Members

    ATO

    Kelly Canavan, Small Business

    Australian Banking Association

    Chris Plakias

    University of New South Wales

    Michael Walpole

      Last modified: 14 Oct 2019QC 60292