Confusion on confusion on confusion...

A cartoon about the vagueness and complexity of Queensland's recent tax legislation

Well, well, well! QRO is having a webinar on Section 30 of the Duties Act 2001 (DA) (Aggregations).

On 7 June 2024, TTR received an email tantalisingly worded:

“Need help with your transfer duty transactions?
We [QRO] are running a series of free webinars to cover important topics related to lodging transfer duty transactions in QRO Online. The focus of our next webinar is – To aggregate or not to aggregate? [Emphasis added]
At this session, we will work through when and how to aggregate transactions, discuss examples and improve your overall knowledge.
You will also have the opportunity to ask questions.
The session is happening on Wednesday 19 June 2024 from 11am to 11.45am AEST.”

All the law on section 30 in 45 minutes! Really! I’d like to see that.

Sincerest good luck – to QRO officers, self assessors, tax practitioners and the community.

When you have to come to a conclusion on whether to aggregate or not, it’s only an even bet whether you’ll get it right as far as the QRO is concerned. Section 30 is crying out for reform.

But worse! Compare paragraph 3 of each of Public Ruling GEN001.7 and paragraph 3 of Practice Direction GEN 001.1 which state that, in some cases, both the Revenue Ruling and the Practice Direction may need to be “consulted”. There is no guidance from the QRO to help work out how and where that would work. That is one of the reasons the dichotomy between Public Rulings and Practice Directions was done away with. Another is the workload of QRO officers, self assessors, tax practitioners and the community! It took TTR a long time to get rid of that dichotomy. How about an example or two, QRO?!

In the May Issue of The Monthly Report, TTR reported having a phone call with the QRO when TTR was told that, on registration as a self-assessor, there is no tuition generally, or specifically, on the operations of the DA. Remember that newly registered self-assessors come to their obligations without probably anyone giving them any education or direction. Certainly, Queensland Law Society doesn’t do it nor any universities or institutions of professional education. [Kindly tell TTR if this statement is wrong and name the institutions of professional education.]

Section 30 problems are difficult because of the “touchy feely” nature of the problems which any rational approach requires one to confront.

All the law on section 30 in 45 minutes ?!

Amazing!

But wait! On the QRO Public Rulings pages, there is DA030.1.2 issued on 30 June 2011. That Public Ruling is current and has not been updated. See the list of Public Rulings referred to in the QRO website of 10 April 2024: Announcements – Queensland Revenue Office (qro.qld.gov.au), namely, “New practice direction framework” which states: “ We’ve [QRO] published a new practice direction framework that is now in effect. The Commissioner has:

  • approved 8 new practice directions
  • updated 2 public rulings
  • withdrawn 6 public rulings”

An update of Public Ruling DA030.1.2 is not mentioned.

Remember that the notice of 7 June 2024 says:

“The focus of our next webinar is – To aggregate or not to aggregate? At this session, we will work through when and how to aggregate transactions, discuss examples and improve your overall knowledge.”

Oh dear! No doubt diligent webinar attendees will look up Public Rulings DA030.1.2 on the QRO website. The problem is that it was issued on 30 June 2011 and there has been nothing issued to refer to the latest cases, especially the Queensland ones. (See Duties Legislation Queensland, JG Mann (Thomson Reuters), generally, paragraph 2.30.10, item 7 but in particular paragraphs 2.30.50 et seq.) Why? If the QRO accepts the latest cases, then say so by issuing Public Ruling DA030.1.3. If QRO does not accept the latest decisions, then again say so and state why. Remember that the Commissioner is bound to administer the DA in accordance with judicial precedence. Hopefully, this webinar will look at ALL of the cases, especially the Queensland ones. TTR is willing to bet that few of the webinar attendees will find the webinar helpful. This is no way to educate relevant parties in this important area of Transfer Duty, especially when anecdotal evidence is that aggregation is a fruitful area for QRO Audits.

Time to reform s.30, QRO, root and branch. But you won’t. Remember the adage from the QRO: “Just because selfassessors, tax practitioners and the community want [fill in], there is no need to do it!”

So much again for the Rule of Law.