Our submission to the Australian Law Reform Commission

The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) recently released an Interim Report into its Inquiry on Traditional Rights and Freedoms—Encroachments by Commonwealth Laws. Taxation laws feature in the report, in no small part due to the Institute's submission which is cited extensively.

In the tax world, we are accustomed to working in a system administered by a Commissioner with extraordinary executive powers which would make many practitioners outside the tax field gasp. These powers encroach on the traditional rights and freedoms of individuals, particularly in the areas of property rights, privilege against self-incrimination and judicial review.

We are also faced with retrospective legislation in areas such as transfer pricing and Part IVA, which are difficult for practitioners to provide clear advice on, even at the best of times. This impacts on the fundamental principle that laws should be capable of being known in advance so that people subject to those laws can exercise choice and order their affairs accordingly.

The Institute plays a key role in scrutinising the unique legal framework in which we operate to ensure that executive powers in tax are not expanding beyond what is essential to preserve revenue and encourage taxpayer compliance. We will shortly be participating in a further round of consultation with the ALRC to discuss matters raised in the Interim Report. The ALRC is due to deliver its Final Report in December.

In other news, we would like to give a plug for Morning Tea with the Treasurer, a free event for members which we are co-hosting on 24 August. Click here to find out more.


Thilini Wickramasuriya FTI is a Tax Counsel of The Tax Institute.

The Tax Institute is Australia’s leading professional association in tax. Its 13,000 members include tax agents, accountants and lawyers as well as tax practitioners in corporations, government and academia.

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