For more than two decades, the possibility of the Australian Taxation Office (Tax) taking responsibility for the collection of excise duty has been periodically raised, and then quashed.
This time, however, it seems that arguments for the move have won out. A joint release from Nick Sherry, Lindsay Tanner and Brendan O’Conner on 30 November 2009 announced that Tax will take responsibility for the administration of all excise-equivalent goods (EEGs), from the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (Customs).
Tax will take over EEG administration of imported petroleum, tobacco and alcohol products. Customs will retain border management issues.
The decision to consolidate responsibilities is the result of a Better Regulation Ministerial Partnership. The Assistant Treasurer, Nick Sherry, said: "A single administrator will deliver significant efficiencies across Australia through a more streamlined process and a reduction in duplication across agencies."
"These revised administrative arrangements reflect the outcomes of extensive industry consultation and will reduce compliance costs of around 400 businesses."
Better Regulation Ministerial Partnerships form a key part of the Rudd Government’s deregulation agenda. Lindsay Tanner, Minister for Finance and Deregulation said:
"The new arrangements reflect recommendations by the Productivity Commission in its Annual Review of Regulatory Burdens on Business: Manufacturing and Distributive Trades of September 2008."
"The new arrangements will be phased in over 18 months beginning on 1 January 2010, with up to 22 full-time positions to be transferred from Customs and Border Protection to the Tax Office to take up this new role," according to Brendan O’Connor, Minister for Home Affairs.
Machinery of Government (MoG) changes such as this typically generate systems integration requirements. To achieve the objective of eliminating duplication between the siloed systems currently operating in the two agencies, the system changes are likely to impact client registration, client enquiry, letter generation and other systems.
Tax has traditionally had one of the most locked down Standard Operating Environments of all Federal Government agencies. In addition, Tax’s current change program, the ‘Easier, Cheaper, More Personalised Program’ - originally due to be implemented by Accenture by the end of 2008, but now experiencing slippage - has within scope the development of new revenue and accounting, customer relationship management and case management systems. These are intended to ‘provide easier and faster transactions with more certainty, better access to taxpayer account information, improved phone service and better correspondence products and processing’. Both of these facts may be considerations in the stated 18 month phase-in period for the EEG transfer.
The 2009-10 Budget did not mention this MoG change, so if a sizeable project requiring funding comes out of this it is likely to be under consideration for funding for 2010-11.