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New Minister tells ATO to behave

Saturday, September 28, 2013

It was less than a fortnight ago that the Abbott government Ministers were sworn in. And we have to admit pleasant surprise at the speed with which new Small Business Minister Bruce Billson has moved to protect small business people.

Last Monday Billson made it known that the government will be instructing the Tax Office and other government agencies to stop the discrimination against self-employed people. The Australian Financial Review stated that the government will require the Tax Office to “…stick to the letter of the law in their treatment of independent contractors”. Billson was blunt in saying that self-employed people  “…don’t deserve to be harangued, made to have their life more difficult, disrespected and devalued.”

The reference was clearly directed (in the first instance) at the ATO’s denial of Australian Business Numbers to self-employed individuals. We explained in April this year what’s been happening. The week before Billson made his comments above, I’d posted a short YouTube commentary calling for action to stop the ABN discrimination.

This has caused on-line commentary from
And you’ll love this. A journalist who interviewed me on the issue explained that he has a regular job as a journo but also writes as a freelancer. Recently the ATO cancelled his ABN based on its view of his tax return. Now his freelance writing is blocked, denying him income and the ATO has no external appeals system. On this issue, not only is the ATO dumb, but it’s dangerous. It’s an attack against independence.

With Minister Billson we’re now likely, it seems, to see some action to stop the discrimination.

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