Second Reading SpeechBy the Treasurer, the Hon. John Howard, M.P.
This Bill and five further Bills I will introduce shortly propose amendments to various taxation laws to abolish the Valuation Boards, to transfer the functions of those Boards to the Taxation Boards of Review and to enable particular duties of the Chairman of the Valuation Boards to be performed by a member or secretary of a Taxation Board of Review.
The Principal Bill is the Taxation Administration Amendment Bill which proposes amendments to the Taxation Administration Act, under which the Valuation Boards are established, to abolish the Boards.
With the abolition of Commonwealth estate and gift duties on and from 1 July this year, the primary task of the Valuation Boards to determine disputes about property valuations made by the Commissioner of Taxation for the purposes of estate and gift duty assessments will gradually disappear.
It is proposed that the functions previously carried out by the Valuation Boards be transferred to the Taxation Boards of Review. The Boards of Review are established under the Income Tax Assessment Act and review decisions of the Commissioner of Taxation under the Income Tax Law and other Commonwealth taxing laws. These boards, which already have experience in determining valuation matters in income tax matters and under the stamp duty 2. laws of the Australian Capital Territory, at present deal with matters other than questions of valuation that arise under the estate duty and gift duty laws. A person who is dissatisfied with the decision of a Board of Review has a right of appeal to a Supreme court and that right will remain.
The chairman of the Valuation Boards has an additional statutory function in relation to income tax, estate duty and pay-roll tax, and that is to enquire into and report on the financial position of persons who seek to be released from payment where exaction of the full amount of tax or duty would entail serious hardship. A relief board consisting of the Commissioner of Taxation, the Secretary to the Department of Finance and the Comptroller-General of Customs, or their substitutes, then determines, on the basis of the report, whether this release should be granted.
The function of reporting on the financial position of persons applying for relief is to be transferred to the Taxation Boards of Review to be dealt with, as the chairman of the Board of Review concerned decides, by either himself, another member of the board or the secretary to the board. The relief board will continue to make the decision concerning release from tax or duty.
I should explain that, at the present time, the position of chairman of the Valuation Boards is vacant, the last occupant having reached retiring age and retired several weeks ago. Members of a board are part-time appointees, generally professional valuers or accountants, who receive a fee for each sitting of a board they attend.
Details of the amendments are contained in an explanatory memorandum that is being circulated to Honourable Members.
I commend the Bill to the House.