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Australia – RV Investments (Aust) Pty Ltd As Trustee For The RV Unit Trust v Federal Commissioner Of Taxation [2014] AATA 158.

9 April, 2014

 

Legal News & Analysis – Asia Pacific – Australia – Tax

 

In RV Investments (Aust) Pty Ltd as Trustee for the RV Unit Trust v Federal Commissioner of Taxation [2014] AATA 158 the Tribunal has held that a taxpayer has failed to demonstrate that certain GST assessments issued by the Commissioner were excessive. Although the taxpayer was unable to discharge the burden of proof, in view of findings made regarding particular invoices, concessions made by the Commissioner and agreements reached by the parties, the Tribunal accepted that the net amounts made by the Commissioner were excessive.

 
Facts

 
The taxpayer carried on the business of repairing, maintaining and hiring motor vehicles. An audit of the taxpayer by the ATO for the period 1 July 2009 to 31 December 2010 (the Relevant Period) revealed a discrepancy of AUD 163,168 between the net amount of GST lodged in business activity statements by the taxpayer and those determined by the Commissioner.

 
The Commissioner subsequently issued an assessment showing AUD 163,168 was owed to the Commonwealth and penalties in the amount of AUD 128,355.20.

 
The taxpayer appealed to the Tribunal for review following a disallowance of its objection to the assessment.

 
Throughout the course of proceedings, the Commissioner made a number of concessions and reached agreement with the taxpayer regarding the quantum of taxable supplies. Accordingly, the Commissioner conceded that claims of AUD 111,245.91 should be allowed.

 
The issue before the Tribunal was whether the assessments under review were excessive based on the creditable acquisitions still claimed by the taxpayer and disputed by the Commissioner.

 
In support of its argument that the remaining claimed creditable acquisitions were justified, the taxpayer tendered tax invoices as evidence arguing that they “speak for themselves”. The taxpayer contended that in the absence of evidence to the contrary, the invoices were sufficient to show that the supply indicated was made. Regarding the penalties imposed by the Commissioner, the taxpayer argued that errors in its lodged business activity statements were the result of oversight or at most a failure to take reasonable care.

 
Held

 
The Tribunal concluded that the taxpayer had failed to demonstrate that the Commissioner’s assessments were excessive.

 
The Tribunal rejected the taxpayer’s argument that the invoices “speak for themselves”. It held that an invoice is not itself evidence of a creditable acquisition but only part of the evidentiary material of a creditable acquisition.

 
However, in view of the Tribunal’s finding in relation to particular invoices, the concessions made by the Commissioner and the agreement reached by the parties regarding taxable supplies, the Tribunal exercised its power under the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975 (Cth) to “make a decision if it is appropriate to do so”. Accordingly, the Tribunal decided to vary the net amounts for the relevant tax period in the decision under review.

 
In relation to penalties, the Tribunal found that the errors came about due to the taxpayer’s recklessness towards – and not intentional disregard of – the operation of GST law. Accordingly, the Commissioner’s original penalty was lowered by 25%.

 

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For further information, please contact:

 

Geoffrey Mann, Partner, Ashurst
[email protected]

 

Jadie Teoh, Ashurst
[email protected]

 

Kristina Popova, Ashurst

[email protected]

 

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