Mr Speaker, I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
2. The Property Tax (Amendment) Bill 2017 comprises three amendments to the Property Tax Act to update the legislation and introduce new powers to improve tax administration.
3. A public consultation exercise on the draft bill was held from 4 May to 25 May this year. MOF has evaluated the feedback received and where relevant, incorporated them in the final Bill. The Bill has three amendments:
(a) amendments relating to the Valuation Review Board;
(b) amendments to clarify and enhance information gathering for tax compliance purposes; and
(c) amendments relating to digital property tax notices.
4. First, we will amend the Act to allow the Valuation Review Board, in absence of any member of the Board due to resignation, illness or any other cause, to continue to hear and determine the appeal if the parties consent and there are at least two remaining members. This change will provide greater convenience to appellants, and mirrors existing provisions for the GST Board of Review. Similar provisions will also be enacted for the Income Tax Board of Review through the Income Tax (Amendment) Bill. The amendment will apply to all appeals held before the Board after the Bill is gazetted and also to appeals the hearing of which has begun before the gazette date.
5. Second, we will amend the Act to provide clarity and to enhance the information gathering powers of the Comptroller of Property Tax, the Chief Assessor and the officers authorised by them. The amendment will allow the Comptroller of Property Tax, the Chief Assessor and their authorised officers to require persons to attend personally before them, to provide information at a time and place specified by them. The change will allow the Comptroller of Property Tax, the Chief Assessor and their authorised officers to require any person to be examined orally and provide information for investigation, if the person appears to know of the facts or circumstances concerning the person’s or another person’s properties. The change will also allow the Comptroller of Property Tax, the Chief Assessor and their authorised officers to reduce to writing any statements provided by persons who are required to provide information. Moreover, the change will enhance the penalties for failure to comply with a request for information.
6. Lastly, we will amend the Act to provide a regulatory framework to implement an opt-out approach for digital property tax notices. The current provisions of the Act require taxpayers to provide specific consent before the Comptroller can issue them with digital tax notices instead of hardcopy notices. The widespread use of computers and mobile devices allows taxpayers to receive digital instead of hardcopy tax notices. The use of digital notices gives taxpayers greater convenience, security and timeliness of alert. This is part of our move to being a Smart Nation. To enable more taxpayers to benefit from digital channels, the Act will be amended so that digital notices can be sent to taxpayers who have either consented to receiving digital notices, or who have not opted out after having been given notice that they will be issued with digital notices. Taxpayers who wish to continue receiving hardcopy notices can opt out. Taxpayers will thus have the flexibility to manage their preference for hardcopy or e-copy at any time.
7. Mr Speaker, I beg to move.