As Lleyton’s tennis days are coming to an end, everyone will be able to latch on to his favourite phrase … COME ON.
I say, COME ON, SWANNY – you are pulling my leg. Yes, you have stuffed up on the design of the MRRT and there will be no revenue. But to suggest that the figures cannot be released – on the advice of the ATO, requested by the Treasury – COME OFF IT. After all, the companies themselves will be revealing the figures in due course, in their annual financial statements.
(I’m not sure Sinc is around but as the expert on tax design, I’m pretty sure his view is that the no revenue from the MRRT is the result of the design of the tax rather than commodity prices and if the Treasury had only been prepared to listen, it might have been different.)
We are not talking about an individual taxpayer. In any case, just add the figures up. No one cares really which companies are paying the tax.
We should also not forget that the estimate for MRRT revenue in 2013-14 is $2.4 billion, which is already looking very dodgy.
The Gillard government has produced advice from its bureaucracy arguing it would be illegal to tell Treasurer Wayne Swan and Finance Minister Penny Wong how much revenue the minerals resource rent tax (MRRT) is raising because it risks illegally identifying the companies paying it, according to The Australian Financial Review.
In a Treasury note, advice from the Australian Government Solicitor argues that disclosing “protected information” of tax collections for the September quarter could results in a two-year prison sentence, the AFR reported.
“The ATO’s current view is that disclosure of these data would breach the secrecy provisions of the Taxation Administration Act (TAA) as taxpayer information may be ascertained by the process of deduction. Accordingly these data have not been published in the monthly financial statement in October,” the note said, according to the AFR.
Former treasurer Peter Costello slammed the note, calling it a strategy to hide the failure of the mining tax.
“The confidentiality provisions are there to protect individual taxpayers but it has never been used to prevent the release of aggregate tax collections,” Mr Costello said, according to the AFR.
“This shows an extreme sensitivity on behalf of the government and leads to the conclusion which we all know – their MRRT has been a failure.”
I’m not sure the Treasury is coming off too well these days, with its fierce resistance to releasing the costings it has undertaken of the Greens policies (Why? At whose request?). Surely, the senior leadership team believes in the importance of transparency and openness as part of the process of good government.