Henry Thornton writes:

Henry yesterday opened an envelope
from his accountant. It contained a letter from the ATO which started
as follows: “We note with concern that the above amount remains
outstanding for your integrated client account liability. You are required to pay this amount immediately. [The bolding is from the Deputy Commissioner of taxation, one M. Crawford.]

It continues: “If
you fail to respond to this notice by 13 February 2006 [the bolding
also continues] we will commence recovery action which may include
legal proceedings or recovery of the full amount from bank account or
other income sources.”

The amount concerned is $679.90, not
a massive amount, and Henry will send off a cheque immediately, just as
he would hand over his wallet to a bloke holding a gun to his head. But
Henry wishes to state that he has no idea what this amount of money is required for [Henry’s bolding now.]

We
can guess that this is the company tax for HenryThornton.com Pty Ltd
for the 2004/05 year, but we were not aware that this tax return had
been submitted or that the ATO’s demands had been made. You, gentle
reader, can infer from the lowly amount that our total profit is not
all that high. We are, however, proud to be a profitable internet
enterprise, with potential upside, as the boys from McKinsey put it.

Seething with indignation, Henry turned to the inside back page of the AFR. It is not often that Henry’s heart beats closely in sync with that of the AFR, but yesterday was a rare example. “Unstop deaf ears on tax” says The Fin‘s editorial. Right on brother.

“After
the long, hot summer, official Canberra is back in business,
filibustering tax reform and missing the wood for the trees. New tax
commissioner Michael D’Ascenzo, at a Melbourne University tax seminar
on Monday, appeared to shrug off concerns when asked about hapless
taxpayers forced by the complexity of tax laws to buy professional
advice. Treasury boss Ken Henry followed suit with a letter to the
Business Council of Australia blithely admitting to an appalling record
of undershooting on revenue forecasts, and to a habit of ignoring
second-round effects when costing tax measures, except when it suits
the government.”

Mr D’Ascenzo’s illustrious career is summarised here.
He’s a bit new to the job: “Michael D’Ascenzo took up his role as
Commissioner of Taxation on 1 January 2006.” He looks like a nice man,
so we may hope for better things in the future.

Mr. Crawford is
a more mysterious figure. He is neither a second commissioner (there
are two of them) nor a first assistant commissioner, of whom there is
one. A Google search suggests he may be an examiner in ADVANCED INCOME
TAX LAW 1 at one of our universities, although the caveat is a
statement that “This information is accurate as at 04/11/98.” Imagine
if Henry had allowed his information at the ATO to fall into such
potential out-of-dateness, even desuetude.

Read the full article at Henry Thornton.

Peter Fray

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