Editors Update

The Journal of Australian Taxation is a peer reviewed scholarly journal publishing articles on all issues relating to taxation.

Under new editors John McLaren (Charles Darwin University) and John Passant (Australian National University) the Journal will continue its broad scope. It will embrace discussions on any aspect of taxation from any jurisdiction. The new editors would like to acknowledge the former editorship of Keith Kendall and thank him for his excellent service to the Journal.

The 2016 edition will be published by the end of February 2017. From 2017 the Journal will be open source and available online.

CALL FOR PAPERS

The editors are now calling for submissions. There is no deadline. Submissions will be received at any time during the year and once refereed and accepted the relevant article will be published online as part of the volume for that year. Any methodology is acceptable, including but not limited to legal, economic, accounting, critical, empirical and comparative approaches.

Articles between 8,000 and 12,000 words are preferred and it is unlikely that submissions of less than 5,000 words would be accepted. They must be written in accordance with the latest edition of the Australian Guide to Legal Citation (a new edition will be available sometime in 2017)

For more information or to make a submission contact John McLaren at john.mclaren@cdu.edu.au or John Passant at john.passant@anu.edu.au

AVAILABILITY OF THE JOURNAL

There are no fees or charges associated with submitting to or publishing in this journal.

This is now an open access journal which means that all content is freely available without charge to the user or there institution. Users are allowed to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of the articles, or use them for any other lawful purpose without asking prior permission from the publisher or the author.

The journal is also available in a printed format if the author requires a printed copy for accreditation purposes.


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Volume 18 Issue 1 – Murray

OPTIONAL DISTRIBUTIONS UNDER NEW ZEALAND’S IMPUTATION AND RESIDENT WITHHOLDING TAX SYSTEMS

By James Murray

This paper reviews the taxation of optional distributions in New Zealand. Three types of optional dividend plan have been used: bonus election plans, dividend reinvestment plans and profit distribution plans. This paper also looks at share repurchases which are similar to optional dividends as they also give shareholders a choice between cash and shares. Originally each type of optional dividend was taxed according to its component transactions, but their taxation was subsequently aligned due to their economic similarity and to minimise opportunities for dividend streaming. However, although share repurchases are similar they are taxed differently, potentially allowing dividend streaming. Dividend reinvestment plans are the most common form of optional dividend used in New Zealand, despite profit distribution plans providing much higher levels of reinvestment. This paper identifies issues with calculating resident withholding tax (RWT) on taxable bonus issues and the misalignment of company, RWT and personal tax rates as possible reasons why companies are not using profit distribution plans.

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Volume 18 Issue 1 – Jogarajan

REGULATING THE REGULATOR: ASSESSING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE ATO’S EXTERNAL SCRUTINY ARRANGEMENTS

By Sunita Jogarajan

In April 2016, the Standing Committee on Tax and Revenue (‘SCTR’) published its ‘Report on the External Scrutiny of the Australian Taxation Office’.1 The report was the result of concerns raised by the Australian Taxation Office (‘ATO’) that it faced excessive external scrutiny. The SCTR’s terms of reference focused on the issues of duplication and overlap of reviews, cost to government of the reviews, and differential regulation (whether the ATO had demonstrated good risk management and high standards of performance such that differential regulation permitted by the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 could be extended to reduce its external scrutiny). The SCTR found that the substantial external scrutiny placed on the ATO was warranted in light of the ATO’s considerable resources and power, and importance to the general system of government. However, the SCTR only touched on the effectiveness of existing external ATO scrutiny arrangements in its report, as this question was not within its terms of reference.

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Volume 18 Issue 1 – Dollery, Drew

IN WHOSE INTEREST? AN ASSESSMENT OF THE NEW SOUTH WALES GOVERNMENT’S POST-AMALGAMATION RATE PATH FREEZE POLICY

By Brian Dollery AND Joseph Drew

As part of its controversial forced amalgamation program, the Baird Government announced that merged councils would fall under a rate path freeze for a period of four years. During that time, merged municipalities would face the same rate increases they would have experienced had they not been amalgamated. The NSW Government also requested the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) to offer recommendations on how the rate freeze policy should best be implemented and IPART released Freezing Existing Rate Paths for Newly Merged Councils in August 2016. This paper examines the rate freeze policy and the IPART report and demonstrates that they would impose serious efficiency, equity and financial sustainability problems on compulsorily consolidated councils.

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