Getting tougher on tax

CHANGES to the Stamp Duty Act currently before Parliament, which include doubling the maximum penalty for each offence from $10,000 to $20,000, threaten to make things even harder for directors.

The changes come on the back of the Government’s Tax Administration Bill, first reported in Business News on December 21, that will make directors personally liable for tax offences and unpaid State taxes.

The change to the Stamp Duty Act currently before Parliament threatens to force companies to pay stamp duty on assessable documents within four months of lodgement. The onus will be on them to calculate the stamp duty owing.

An incorrect assessment could leave the company in breach of the Act and, if the Tax Administration Bill passes, make its directors personally liable for any unpaid taxes and penalties.

Under the old system a company had three months to lodge a document with the stamp duty assessor and another three months to pay the duty once the assessment had been made. It could take anywhere from a few hours to years to make an assessment.

However, a spokesman for Treasurer Eric Ripper said this would be changed before the Bill went any further. The Office of State Revenue would still make assessments. Companies would have two months to lodge and one month to pay after an assessment.

The change was prompted by Government talks with the Taxation Institute.

PricewaterhouseCoopers indirect tax partner Ross Thorpe said the changes to the Stamp Duty Act were yet another reason why a person would not want to be a director.

“There are outs for directors if the company pays what tax it owes or if it goes into administration or liquidation,” he said.

Halsey and Associates partner Fiona Halsey said the new stamp duty rules would make life harder for taxpayers.

“It will be particularly difficult if they are dealing with trusts,” she said.

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