Wednesday, October 27, 2021

US-style overhaul of Tax Office recommended by parliamentary committee - The fact-checking process can help you sleep better at night

Don’t pay your tax until a court says so: parliamentary report

Stopping high interest rates being slugged on tax debts and putting the onus of proof onto the Tax Office when accusing people of breaking the law are among a swathe of new US-inspired recommendations from a parliamentary committee to improve the experience of taxpayers.

MPs also recommend creating a Bill of Rights for taxpayers and increasing transparency about how quickly complaints are dealt with, in 19 recommendations made by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Tax and Revenue to the federal government.

US-style overhaul of Tax Office recommended by parliamentary committee

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The federal government will pay Irish-domiciled consulting multinational Accenture nearly $60 million to develop a “permissions capability” platform which will initially serve to digitise incoming passenger declaration forms.

In mid-September the Department of Home Affairs announced that Accenture had won a lucrative contract to deliver a “permissions capability” for the Commonwealth, with the government planning to purchase an off-the-shelf digital platform that will be used for incoming passenger declaration forms, including to collect COVID-19 vaccination details.

Govt to pay Accenture $60 million for permissions capability work

The new mayor of a blue-ribbon council in Sydney’s north has been barred from speaking to council staff in person and over the phone after just over a month in the job.

Ku-ring-gai Council general manager John McKee said he had also relocated municipal employees, including mayor Cedric Spencer’s personal assistant, in acting on serious concerns he had “as a result of information coming to my attention”.

Sydney mayor banned from talking to staff and PA moved to ‘secret location’

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Small businesses and individuals in dispute with the tax office over an alleged debt will not be required to pay it until a final determination is made by a relevant dispute body or court, according to recommendations of a federal parliamentary inquiry.

The inquiry, which has been scrutinising the Australian Taxation Office's (ATO) immense powers that can put it at an advantage over ordinary Australians during tax disputes, has suggested sweeping changes to the law to better protect vulnerable taxpayers.

It recommends the onus of proof should lie not with the taxpayer but with the ATO, in relation to allegations of fraud or evasion.

The committee also recommends that the federal government introduce something equivalent to a US-style taxpayer bill of rights, where legislative rights are enshrined in the law.

Time to reverse the onus of proof for taxpayers and introduce a bill of rights, inquiry says

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Matthew Smith (U.S. Treasury Department, Office of Tax Analysis), Owen Zidar (Princeton; Google Scholar) & Eric Zwick (Chicago; Google Scholar), Top Wealth in America: New Estimates and Implications for Taxing the Rich:

This paper uses administrative tax data to estimate top wealth in the United States. We assemble new data that links people to their sources of capital income and develop new methods to estimate the degree of return heterogeneity within asset classes. 

The fact-checking process can help you sleep better at night

Poynter – Tips from PolitiFact on bulletproofing your stories. Make sure you have a checklist for each story, even at a basic level: “Corrections hurt, and most professional journalists can probably name at least one they’ve had to make — sometimes a tiny detail in a large, time-intensive story. Luckily, there are editing and fact-checking practices you can put in place to bulletproof your stories, captions and graphics before publication. Katie Sanders is the managing editor of PolitiFact, a nonprofit fact-checking website that rates the accuracy of politicians’ claims and other newsworthy statements. Accuracy checks are baked into PolitiFact’s reporting and editing process to ensure accurate evaluations of claims. (PolitiFact is owned by Poynter, which sponsors this newsletter.) Sanders shared tips for making an accuracy checklist, balancing speed and accuracy, and tracing information back to primary sources. This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity…”

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The Power of Dave Chappelle’s Comedy Jelani Cobb, The New Yorker