At The Tax Institute’s March 2019 National Convention, in Hobart, Mr. Geoff Mann presented a paper he co-wrote with Adam Ong, both of Ashurst, Lawyers. The paper was entitled: Where Are We With GST and Where Could We Be Going?



1 Overview

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the passing of the A New Tax System (Goods and Services) Tax Act 1999 (the GST Act). Having been created through a series of political compromises, the GST Act has since gone through a range of amendments to ensure it better reflects the broad based consumption tax first proposed some 25 years before it was enacted.

This paper has been set up to give a brief overview of the history of the GST Act coming into being, and then analyses its formative years. While trying to create an accurate portrayal of the difficulties that arose through its initial operation, the paper provides an overview of the early case law and reluctance of numerous Governments to enact meaningful amendments to the Act with an overview of key amendments that eventually had to be made.

The third part of the paper focuses on the current developments and recent changes in the GST Act. As an overview, the current focus of the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) appears to surround the treatment of cross-border transactions and the effect they can have on the Australian Goods and Services Tax (GST). Other developments of interest include additional withholding requirements in residential property transactions and a reverse charge in the precious metals industry, both of which shift responsibilities onto recipients.

Part four of the paper then considers the areas of particular interest to the ATO. It highlights the areas of increased scrutiny from the ATO and provides an insight into the basis for the amplified analysis.

The paper then concludes with a brief assessment of where the GST system might be heading. Having looked at the history of the Act and the current issues and developments, the paper offers an overview of the areas that can still be considered a source of major confusion for taxpayers and could well deserve attention going forward.


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