National Farmers' Federation

NFF reiterates calls for backpacker tax to be ended amid public confusion over ATO error

The NFF has today reaffirmed its call for certainty on the ‘backpacker tax’ following confusion surrounding its start date based on misinformation published on the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) website.
The ABC reported that, as late as Thursday, the ATO site said the controversial tax would come into effect from 1 July, despite the Government’s six-month delay of the tax, pending a review of the measure.
Since then, the ATO has sought to clarify this error, stating on its website that “the continuation of this measure and, if it does proceed, how it will be implemented, will be a matter for the incoming government to decide.” The website also advises:
“In the 2015-16 Federal Budget, the government announced that it will change the tax residency rules for most people who are temporarily in Australia for a working holiday. These people will be treated as non-residents for tax purposes, regardless of how long they are here. They will not be able to access the tax-free threshold and will be taxed at the second marginal rate (currently 32.5%) from their first dollar of income up to $80,000.”
National Farmers’ Federation President, Brent Finlay, said the ATO’s mistake was a timely reminder of the havoc being created by the ongoing uncertainty embroiling the tax.
“Farmers are doing everything they can to attract enough workers while coming to terms with a Government response to the outrage generated by this tax which still leaves them without any clarity as to how they’ll find the workforce they need into the future,” Mr Finlay said.
“The fact that the Government agency responsible for administering the tax doesn’t even know what’s going on is cause for concern. The announcement of the six-month delay was made more than three weeks ago and yet the ATO call centre was advising that changes would apply from 1 July.
“Depending on what happens on election night, farmers will face either a wide ranging review in a very short time frame, or some kind of unspecified sit down with politicians.
“Whatever comes of this, the only certainty we do have is that it will be too little, too late for this year’s harvest.
“We reiterate our call to all parties to demonstrate that you are listening to rural Australia and that the backpacker tax will be scrapped if you are elected.
“This uncertainty cannot continue.”

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