On 13 October 2011 the Australian Government presented a bill which the Minister says “amends the tax law to better protect workers’ entitlements to superannuation, strengthen the obligations of company directors and enhance deterrence of fraudulent phoenix activity”.
Schedule 3 of the Tax Laws Amendment (2011 Measures No.8) Bill 2011 is described in the Second Reading speech by the Minister, Mr Bill Shorten, as follows:
“These amendments will provide disincentives for directors to allow their companies to fail to meet their existing obligations, particularly obligations to employees. They do not introduce new obligations on the company but, rather, penalise company directors who are failing to ensure that their companies meet their obligations.
These outcomes are achieved by extending the director penalty regime to superannuation guarantee. This will make directors personally liable for their company’s failure to meet its obligations to pay employee superannuation.
Secondly, this will allow the commissioner to commence recovery against company directors under the director penalty regime without issuing a director penalty notice. This power is limited to situations where the company’s unpaid pay-as-you-go (or PAYG) withholding or superannuation liability remains unpaid and unreported, three months after becoming due.
Thirdly, it is making company directors and, in some limited cases, their associates liable to a tax which, in effect, reverses the economic benefit of a PAYG withholding credit. This tax only applies if directors or their associates are entitled to a credit for amounts that have been withheld from payments made to them by the company and the company has failed to meet its obligation to pay PAYG withholding amounts to the commissioner. Further criteria must be satisfied before associates are liable.
Together, this package of amendments will improve the likelihood that employees will receive the superannuation they are entitled to. It will reduce the ability of directors to avoid paying director penalties for their company’s superannuation guarantee and PAYG withholding debts. Further, it will increase the disincentives for directors to allow their company to fail to meet its existing obligations.”
Introduced with the Pay As You Go Withholding Non-compliance Tax Bill 2011, the bill amends, inter alia, the Taxation Administration Act 1953 to allow the Commissioner of Taxation to commence proceedings to recover director penalties in certain circumstances without issuing a director penalty notice; the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997, Taxation Administration Act 1953 and Taxation (Interest on Overpayments and Early Payments) Act 1983 to make directors and their associates liable to pay as you go withholding non-compliance tax in certain circumstances; and the Corporations Act 2001, Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Act 1992 and Taxation Administration Act 1953 to make directors personally liable for their company’s unpaid superannuation guarantee amount.
Minister’s Second Reading speech on 13/10/2011.
Text of Bill (See Schedule 3)
Explanatory memoranda (See Chapter 3) For a concise comparison of key features of the new law and the current law, see the chart at pages 30 & 31 of the Explanatory Memorandum.
On 18 October 2011 the Treasury published the thirteen submissions it received in response to the consultation on an earlier exposure draft of this legislation. To view these click HERE.