Tax practitioners are hoping that the announcement of a new tax design review panel by the Assistant Treasurer Chris Bowen could mean the end of legislation by press release.
Typically, proposed tax laws are flagged for practitioners by press release, but there is then an indeterminate delay before the detail of the law is produced and it becomes effective. In some cases the delay can be more than 12 months.
Terry Hayes, of Thomson’s Legal & Regulatory, says he has a large and growing list of what he calls “legislation by press release”, some of which is still hanging over from the Howard government and some of which is the tax reform promises and announcements of the new Rudd Government.
“It’s been a huge bug bear for many years,” says Hayes. “It creates enormous uncertainty for tax practitioners and their clients where they have a business strategy that may be affected by proposed laws, the detail of which has not been published.”
Hayes says that if the new panel, to be chaired by PricewaterhouseCoopers partner Neil Wilson, can reduce the delay and uncertainty, it is a great idea.
The panel will include Blake Dawson partner Duncan Baxter and Victorian barrister John Morgan as wells as representatives of the Prime Minister’s Department, Cabinet, Treasury, the tax office and parliamentary counsel.