HomeNewsAustraliaMulti-million dollar penalties for confidentiality breaches introduced to NSW Parliament

Multi-million dollar penalties for confidentiality breaches introduced to NSW Parliament

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The Minns Labor Government will today introduce to Parliament the Revenue, Fines and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2023, a series of amendments which promote integrity and help protect government from confidentiality breaches.

The Bill will see individuals, corporations or other organisations hit with multi-million-dollar penalties if they are caught using or disclosing confidential government taxation information.

The NSW Government routinely consults with external representative industry bodies 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 used or disclosed confidential government information.

Importantly, persons who conceal the breach of confidential government taxation information will be liable to the same penalties.

The amendment will also allow the Chief Commissioner of State Revenue to report the offending individual or organisation to any relevant professional body and publish details regarding the breach.

The bill also amends the Payroll Tax Act 2007 to enhance Revenue NSW’s ability to recover tax debts from ‘phoenix’ operators who liquidate companies to avoid paying their debts.

Courtney Houssos made the announcement today.

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 to whom the debts are payable.

Under the changes, payroll tax groupings will be extended to include companies which are in administration or have been wound up, allowing Revenue NSW to recover their debts from successor companies.

In NSW, the payroll tax revenue leakage from phoenix activity has been estimated at over $85 million.

The Revenue, Fines and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2023 also introduces a series of changes which promote integrity and compliance and improve the administration of the State’s fines system, including:

  • A new offence for evading or attempting to evade tax through a deliberate act or omission. The maximum penalty for this offence is $100,000, two years imprisonment, or both.
  • An increase in penalties ranging from $27,500 to $110,000 for some offences under the Taxation Administration Act 1996, such as providing false or misleading information or wilfully destroying records. This brings NSW into line with current penalties imposed by the Commonwealth and other states.
  • Creating a new offence for a person who offers or agrees to be falsely nominated, including for driving and traffic offences. While it is currently an offence to nominate another individual, it will now also be an offence to offer or agree to be nominated. The maximum penalty will be $5,500 for an individual, or $10,100 for a non-individual.

Minister for Finance, Courtney Houssos, said in a statement: “The Revenue, Fines and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2023 modernises penalties, addresses dishonest business practices like ‘phoenixing’ and promotes integrity.”

Ms Houssos said the bill will offer “greater fairness” and “transparency for the people of NSW.”

“These measures ensure integrity remains at the heart of the NSW Government’s tax system,” she added.

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