The Commissioner currently has limited administrative flexibility to deal with situations when the interpretation of the law (applying ordinary statutory interpretation principles) does not accord with the policy intent.Â The Commissioner cannot ignore or not apply the law as interpreted by her.Â This is because, as a matter of constitutional law, only Parliament has the ability to impose (or suspend) taxes.Â While a legislative amendment can be sought to remedy the issue, this may not necessarily avoid the Commissioner and taxpayers having to commit resources to the issue.
As a starting point for discussion, the proposal is that the Commissioner would be able to:
- Apply a policy-based approach to small gaps in the tax legislation;
- Deal pragmatically with legislative anomalies that are minor or transitory;
- Address cases of inequity at the margins; or
- Deal with cases in which a statutory rule is difficult to formulate.
1.Â Do you have any concerns about any of the criteria listed above?Â Which of the above criteria will be most useful for taxpayers?
2.Â Do you have any better criteria for providing the Commissioner with greater administrative flexibility?
3.Â What limitations do you think should be placed on the use of any further power given to the Commissioner to interpret the law?