2010 remedial changes made to the Income Tax Act 2007 and the Income Tax Act 2004 on the recommendation of the Rewrite Advisory Panel.

This remedial Act also amends a number of minor drafting matters that have been brought to the attention of the Rewrite Advisory Panel. In general, these amendments are corrections of cross-references, spelling, punctuation, terminology, and consistency of drafting. The Rewrite Advisory Panel publishes lists of these maintenance items on its website www.rewriteadvisory.govt.nz.

Background

At the time of reporting back the Income Tax Bill 2002, the Finance and Expenditure Committee expressed concern that the new, rewritten, legislation could contain unintended policy changes. To alleviate that concern, the committee recommended that a panel of tax specialists review any submission that rewritten income legislation contains an unintended policy change.

An unintended policy change is one that gives rise to a different outcome from the corresponding provision in the previous Income Tax Act. The Rewrite Advisory Panel performs this review function. The process for making a submission to the Panel is set out in its statements, RAP 001 and RAP 002 which are published on the Panel’s website.

In general, the Panel recommends that a provision is:

  • amended to counter the effect of an unintended change; or
  • identified as an intended change in the schedule of intended changes in the 2004 or 2007 Acts; or
  • contains no change in outcome when compared with its corresponding provision in the earlier Act.

The Finance and Expenditure Committee also noted in its commentary on the Income Tax Bill 2002 that there may be situations in which:

... the Government of the day decides to retain the rewritten law without retrospective amendment.

The Committee went on to say:

Such a decision would be a change in policy, and the Inland Revenue Department would be obliged to require taxpayers to meet any increased tax. The department has advised us that it intends to inform taxpayers through an appropriate publication that, in such cases, where taxpayers rely on the transitional provisions, they will be required to meet the tax obligation but will not be subject to penalties, and any use of money interest incurred will be remitted. The taxpayer must have taken reasonable care and adopted a reasonable tax position under the old law. We agree with this approach ...

Inland Revenue has published two standard practice statements setting out how it will apply the penalty and interest rules within the context of the comments of the Finance and Expenditure committee referred to above. Those two statements are SPS 08/03, issued in relation to the 2007 Act (published in the Tax Information Bulletin, December 2008) and SPS 05/02, issued in relation to the 2004 Act (published in the Tax Information Bulletin, June-July 2005).