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Australian Tax Rewrite


Brian J. Arnold


On 13 March 2009, in a speech to the annual conference of the Taxation Institute of Australia, the Honourable Chris Bowen, the then-Assistant Treasurer, announced an intention to complete the rewrite of Australia’s income tax legislation. The rewrite began in 1994 but was abandoned in 1999, leaving Australia with the worst possible result; half of the legislation written in the old style and half in the new style. Rest assured, however, that even after the rewrite is complete — the projected completion date is 2013 — Australia will still have the dubious distinction of having the worst (ie, most poorly drafted) income tax legislation in the world. In his speech, the Assistant Treasurer said that there was no justification for two long Tax Acts. The real point is that there is no justification for poorly drafted legislation.