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Council Claims $767,000 Tax Refund

Filed under Breaking News, Council, Latest News
Ros Heit

SBRC Finance portfolio chair
Cr Ros Heit

January 22, 2019

South Burnett Regional Council is seeking a $767,000 refund from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) for fuel credits it incorrectly paid over a four-year period.

The error was recently uncovered by Council’s auditors KPMG Australia, and the claim is currently being assessed by the ATO.

Finance portfolio chair Cr Ros Heit told last week’s Council meeting the refund, if approved by the ATO, would increase the projected surplus in this year’s Budget from $1 million to almost $1.8 million if conditions did not change substantially.

Part of the refund – $400,000 – had been earmarked for the refurbishment of Council’s Nanango offices.

The remainder would help offset some reductions in capital grants.

KPMG was appointed by Queensland’s Auditor-General last year.

The Auditor-General appoints external accounting firms to audit the financial statements of all Queensland councils every year.

This is part of standard measures to analyse the performance, position and sustainability of councils, and the timeliness and quality of their financial reporting.

Councils are billed a substantial fee for these audits.

In February 2014, former Mayor Wayne Kratzmann reported the SBRC was paying more than $238,000 a year to the State Government for auditing.

He said this fee – plus other State Government charges for payroll tax, valuation fees and stock route charges – were adding more than 3 per cent to rates bills.

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7 Responses to Council Claims $767,000 Tax Refund

  1. Robert Head

    Wow what a mistake. Surely this is a sackable error. The mayor and councillors must have been asleep at the wheel.

  2. Terry Gordon

    Firstly, the error goes unnoticed for four years, and secondly, they are spending the refund before they can be sure of getting it. Surely that raises the question “are these people capable of performing their jobs to the standard we, the ratepayers, expect of them”.

  3. Rod Long

    Councillors have to rely on the advice they receive from consultants and according to Council’s annual reports, the auditors found nothing amiss with the books (neither did the Department of Local Government). Now a new firm of auditors has discovered something the previous auditors either overlooked or the tax laws have changed.

  4. Still Disgruntled

    Holy big jolly jumping jellybeans! Whatever on earth is going on here? This is quite a large amount of money that appears would have been squandered and lost if not for the luck of being picked up by the current auditors.

    This is not at all acceptable without serious censure.

    I would have thought that there would be more than three comments on this subject, just goes to show how apathetic the South Burnett people really are.

    The first two were rightfully very concerned. As for the elected members being asleep at the wheel, well I doubt it as it would appear that they haven’t yet come across the wheel.

    The third commenter has had a very limp-wristed go at trying to palm off any problem as being quite insignificant. Gee, I reckon it is very very serious indeed. (Ratepayers funds gone, gone!)

    Definition of a consultant: A person that borrows YOUR watch so as to tell YOU the time!

    Note councillors, do you really need to always blow our money on quite often unnecessary and menial things which should be done in-house. After all you still have to make the final decision. So why not spend a bit more time on full and proper discussion and you all may then understand what goes on a little better instead of farming out the responsibility of discussion.

    The news item does not explain the problem fully [what? and why?], so I will have a guess. Is it to do with the standard on-off road issues with diesel excise?

    Everybody that buys fuel (councils included, and why not?) pays a large fuel tax component. Primary producers ie. farmers and fishers, people that produce product from hard work vs. people that modify or improve that primary product, are exempt and have to then claim back the excise component. Petrol off-road is not claimable and not all diesel activities off-road are claimable, either.

    This is complex but fairly simple really. It is not rocket science, nor is it black magic. It is common, very common and each and every farmer goes through the process when buying diesel. They desperately need to because it seriously effects the hoped-for profits.

    Now what is going on with the Council, both elected and non-elected. It also says what for the process of auditing? What’s going to change? Something surely should!

  5. Lorna Wieland

    Surely there can be a better use for $400,000 than office refurbishment. That is over half the expected refund. Maybe it should be invested at interest so that the constant stream of consultants can be paid or put to some more worthwhile expenditure. It is a refund from fuel expenditure, so use it where the fuel is purchased – on the roads.

  6. Elisabeth

    This raises the question: How good are the Council’s administration processes? The Local Government Tax and Finance and Human Resource Managers should be across their financial and human resource systems/processes to ensure compliance with Whole of Government policy and procedures as they apply to local councils. This also includes ATO requirements! This issue should have been picked up by the Council’s internal processes it is not rocket science!

    Tax/Finance/HR Managers at the State level contact the ATO if financial issues are unclear to seek clarification. Why does the Council not do the same? If not why not? Are these officers appropriately trained or experienced. Chances are if there was a breakdown in this process there will be others where money is being lost, resulting in more mismanagement of monies. With some of the Council’s decisions in past few years, it’s starting to look like an internal investigation of competency would be a good idea.

  7. Elisabeth

    No monies should on be spent on the Council’s Nanango office. It should be spent on something that benefits the residents of the South Burnett Regional Council. The council’s incompetence should not be rewarded by a refurbished council building. What message does that send to the residents of South Burnett Regional Council? It is concerning we have a council with this thought process.

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