NSW Government passes tough new penalties for confidential tax disclosure, relief for GPs
The NSW Government today passed legislation which provides tough new penalties for the disclosure of confidential taxation information, as well as relief for GPs.
The Revenue, Fines and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2023 contains multi-million-dollar penalties for individuals, corporations or other organisations if they are caught using or disclosing confidential government taxation information.
The NSW Government routinely consults externally on tax policy and legislation on a confidential basis.
The new offence in the bill carries maximum penalties of $1,109,900 for individuals and $5,549,500 for corporations if they are found to have misused or disclosed confidential government information.
The bill also includes a 12-month pause on payroll tax audits for GPs and their practices to allow for ongoing consultation with the sector, including the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and the Australian Medical Association.
There will also be a 12-month pause on tax penalties and interest accrued on outstanding payroll tax debts incurred before and at the commencement of the 12-month period.
The pause comes amid increased cost pressures on GPs following the former Federal Liberal Government’s decision to freeze the indexation of bulk-billing rebates for many years.
Any threat to bulk-billing rates for NSW patients is a concern for the Government, given the potential flow-on increase in presentations to emergency departments and hospitals, which are already under significant strain.
Earlier, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners thanked the NSW Government for its approach.
The bill also contained other measures which promote integrity and compliance and improve the administration of the state’s fines system, including enhancing Revenue NSW’s ability to recover tax debts from ‘phoenix’ operators who liquidate companies to avoid paying their debts.
Phoenix activity is a major concern of commonwealth and state regulators, not only because of tax avoidance but also because of the harm caused to individuals, businesses and other creditors.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Finance Courtney Houssos:
“Today, we provided relief to GPs who are under cost pressures because of the actions of the previous Federal Liberal Government.
“I’m grateful to the RACGP for their support on this and look forward to engaging with them and the AMA over the coming months to develop a long-term solution.
“Our new confidentiality laws ensure integrity remains at the heart of the NSW Government’s tax system.
“The new multi-million-dollar penalties send the strongest signal yet that divulging confidential government information won’t be tolerated.”