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  • GST Stewardship Group minutes 15 February 2017

    Meeting details

    Venue: ATO Offices, Level 1 MCG large meeting room, 747 Collins Street, Melbourne

    Date: 15 February 2017

    Start: 9.30am Finish: 13.20pm

    Chair: Tim Dyce

    Secretariat: Alison Zeitlhofer, Indirect Tax, contact phone: 02 6216 1013


    Tim Dyce

    Deputy Commissioner, Indirect Tax, ATO (Co-Chair)

    Paul Southwell

    Assistant Commissioner, Indirect Tax, ATO

    Gordon Brysland

    Assistant Commissioner, Senior Tax Counsel, ATO

    Giles Wilmer

    Director, Commonwealth Taxes Unit,
    Queensland Treasury

    Kevin O'Rourke

    Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (Co-Chair)

    Chris Plakias

    Head of Tax, GST and Technology Westpac,
    Member Australian Bankers’ Association

    Ken Fehily

    Principal, Fehily Advisory, Member CPA Australia

    Andrew Howe

    Director, Greenwoods and Freehills Pty Ltd,
    Member Property Council of Australia

    Bastian Gasser

    The Tax Institute

    Andrew Sommer

    Partner, Clayton Utz, Member Law Council of Australia

    Paul Suppree

    Assistant Director, Corporate Tax Association

    George Nikolaou

    Coles Finance

    Professor Michael Walpole

    Professor and Associate Head of School (Research),
    School of Taxation & Business Law, University of NSW

    Guest attendees

    Deborah Jenkins

    Assistant Commissioner, Small Business, ATO

    Amy James-Velagic

    Assistant Commissioner, Indirect Tax, ATO

    Jeremy Geale

    Deputy Chief Tax Counsel, Tax Counsel Network, ATO

    Michael Atfield

    Secretary Board of Taxation, The Treasury

    Andrew Werbick

    Assistant Commissioner, Tax Counsel Network, ATO


    David Pullen

    Indirect Tax and Not for Profit Unit, The Treasury

    Agenda summary

    • Welcome
    • Engaging with the Board of Taxation
    • Low value goods – post consultation on draft law
    • Update on Industry in terms of new developments / business models
    • Public advice and guidance
    • Impact of recent system outages on GST Refunds
    • Topics discussed in last three years
    • Next steps summary and close

    Discussion summary

    Welcome - Tim Dyce

    Tim Dyce opened the meeting.

    Action items from 10 November 2016 were updated.

    Deborah Jenkins provided a summary of feedback on the input tax credit estimators (ITC) communication messages. The great feedback that had been provided by members of the GST Stewardship Group was acknowledged.

    • The comments period for the ITC Estimator web guidance concluded on the 27 January, with last comments received on 3 February.
    • In total we received feedback from 6 different stakeholders (5 external and 1 internal).
    • Some common themes from the feedback were:
      • it appeared to be endorsing use of ITC estimators rather than discouraging;
      • It is not clear what the intent or the purpose of web guidance was;
      • the worked Example and Table 1 and 2 were confusing and gave an impression that ATO was endorsing a particular methodology;
      • further clarification needed on when the Correcting GST Error Determination and Correcting GST errors guide apply/can be used.
    • All the comments have been collated and the authoring team held a workshop to discuss the feedback received and where relevant possible solutions to address the feedback.
    • The authoring team is in the process of revising the web guidance, with particular focus on the detailed Example, in light of the feedback received. We plan to achieve this by the end February.
    • The authoring team will consult and seek feedback from Marketing and Communications prior to circulating to internal stakeholder group for final comment and approvals.
    • Once final approvals are received, publishing process will commence.
    • Our goal is to publish the web guidance by 31 March 2017.

    Some questions for consideration:

    • How can we strengthen the message that while the ITC Estimators can be used we discourage their use due to the risks involved?
    • Do the members of the Group see value in the detailed worked Example or does it cause confusion? Does it imply that the ATO endorses a particular methodology? Would a simpler version that focuses on explanation of our expectations regarding review and reconciliation be more useful?
    • Does the web guidance mitigate the risk around the use/misuse of ITC Estimators?


    Due date:


    A – 15/02/17

    Friday 10 March 17


    Provide responses to consideration questions raised above

    Engaging with the Board of Taxation – Michael Atfield

    Michael Atfield spoke about various ways in which the Board of Taxation and the GST Stewardship could interact. Members were shown the Sounding Board collaborative mechanism; Link which was launched on the web pre May 2016 Budget. This mechanism provide the opportunity to the community to put new ideas forward, vote and or comment on ideas others have put forward. Members where encouraged to utilise the Sounding Board. Increasingly the Board of Taxation are engaging with externals and was deemed sensible going forward to utilise the GST Stewardship Group to canvas views.

    Low value goods – post consultation on draft law – Michael Atfield

    This item was not minuted

    Update on industry in terms of new developments / business models – Tim Dyce

    Tim Dyce led a discussion on what changes are occurring in the business environment that could impact on GST.

    Members discussed how they were observing a significant move away from cash transactions, however, this trend did not appear to be creating new business models or GST outcomes.

    The ATO’s guidance on the application of a goods and services tax voluntary reverse charge for the precious metals industry which came into effect on 1 January 2017 was discussed.

    Tim Dyce advised that the ATO is increasingly look to offer timely administrative solutions mitigating risk.

    Public advice and guidance – Deborah Jenkins and Andrew Werbik

    Andrew Werbik provided an overview of the journey the Public Advice and Guidance (PAG) unit has taken to improve the overall taxpayer experience. Members were shown a short video on improving public advice and guidance for all Australians featuring David Koch, Will Day, Stephanie Caredes, Michelle De Niese and John King, as an example of the way in which the ATO is connecting with the community. Members learnt about the oversight of PAG within the ATO and the notable change in work practices to risk based approaches. The ATO is now matching resources to the level of risk to the tax system, and with a real commitment and emphasis on early engagement. The new ‘look and feel’ of PAG makes it clear to taxpayers from the outset the Commissioner’s view. The ATO is also looking to refresh existing public advice.

    Deborah Jenkins was able to demonstrate what the PAG changes mean in a GST context.


    Due date:


    B – 15/02/2017

    Friday 3 March 2017

    Amy James-Velagic, via secretariat

    Provide links to information around public advice


    Impact of recent system outages on GST refunds – Paul Southwell

    Paul Southwell provided an overview of the impacts of recent ATO system outages in GST Refunds.

    Paul confirmed our controls and business continuity processes during the outage had maintained the integrity of our systems.

    Topics discussed in last three years – Paul Southwell

    This item was raised by Ken Fehily. The intent was to ascertain whether agenda items addressed at the GST Stewardship Group had resulted in a change and/or, if any of these items should be revisited by the GST Stewardship Group. Paul Southwell drew member’s attention to the paper provided to members based on prior minutes. Topics that were considered for revisiting at future meetings included joint ventures and partnerships, penalties and red tape initiatives.

    Members concurred that this group had developed a good working relationship with The Treasury.

    The group may also consider at a future meeting whether reverse charging could be applied in other circumstances. A brainstorming session could also be conducted using papers published in other jurisdictions.

    Next steps summary and close – Tim Dyce

    The meeting concluded at 13:20

      Last modified: 28 Jun 2017QC 52698