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News & Press: Opinion

More and more amendments

20 October 2012   (0 Comments)
Posted by: SAIT Technical
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By Michael Stein (Friday Page)

Executive Summary (SAIT Technical)

In today's Friday Page, Michael Stein discusses thecomplex effectsof the large number of tax amendments currently going through the legislative process.

Full article

‘The regularity and extent of tax amendments, which set off waves of new anti-avoidance legislation, have reached a level of complexity that makes the income tax system unmanageable' says Ernie Lai King, tax executive at Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs (see Business Day .(17 October 2012).

This statement echoes what I have been saying in this column and elsewhere for some time. And it is supported by an examination of the three amending tax statutes that are currently going through the legislative process. Although I prefer not to look at draft legislation, I am currently studying the Draft Taxation Laws Amendment Bill 2012, which is a huge and somewhat chaotic document. It not only contains several serial amendments, that is, serial amendments to the same provisions of the Income Tax Act, but also has a confusing range of effective dates. And it contains what is now becoming an unfortunately common feature of our tax amending legislation, namely, many amendments to the amendment acts of earlier years.

The result is greater and greater difficulty in not just understanding the law, but even accessing it.

And remember tax practitioners do not always deal with just the current law in practice, and typically have to consult the law as it applied in earlier years when dealing with tax queries or problems applying to those years.

The draft law will no doubt change before it goes to Parliament, so that I am amazed that some people are presenting seminars now purporting to deal with the final changes for the year. Or are they just presenting what are in truth seminars based on the 2012 Budget speech, which dealt primarily with changes in tax rates and other routine matters. People who emerge from these seminars thinking that they are in any way aware of the serious changes to the law are therefore deluding themselves and dangerously ignorant.

But my real point is that our tax laws have become far too complex and unstable, a matter on which I agree fully with Ernie Lai King.


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