Commissioner outlines administrative treatment of GST refunds pending amendment of existing law

On 17 August 2012 the Assistant Treasurer released draft legislation for public consultation dealing with refunds of overpaid GST.  The amendments are intended to apply to tax periods commencing on or after the date of the announcement. Today the ATO published its proposed administrative treatment for GST refunds pending the enactment of the new legislation – the page of the ATO website can be accessed here.

The legislation repeals the discretion in s 105-65 of Schedule 1 to the TAA and introduces Division 36 into the GST Act which does not provide any discretion but simply provides when refunds will (and will not) be payable, which will allow taxpayers to self-assess their entitlements to refunds. My analysis of the proposed amendments can be accessed here.

The administrative procedure is as follows:

The ATO will apply the existing law and follow current procedure until the proposed law is enacted where taxpayers:

  • are required to write to the Commissioner to claim a refund of overpaid GST as a result of a mischaracterisation of a supply (for example a supply is treated as taxable but is actually GST-free), and
  • are not required to write to the Commissioner to claim a refund of overpaid GST as a result of a miscalculation of an amount of GST payable (for example, the amount of GST payable was incorrectly calculated on a taxable supply of real property using the margin scheme), and can instead self-assess their claim to a refund of overpaid GST.

After the new law is enacted, taxpayers will need to review their circumstances regarding their claims for refunds of overpaid GST made during the period between the date of the announcement and enactment.

If a taxpayer is required to seek amendments and the amendments result in an increase in their liability there will be no shortfall penalties or interest imposed where the amendments are made within 28 days after enactment.  Otherwise the full GIC will apply from the date of enactment.

If amendments reduce a taxpayer’s liability, appropriate interest on any overpayment will be paid.


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