Council as a taxpayer in the 21st century

Speaking on tax reform, Tom Wilson, Partner with Pricewaterhouse Coopers, told delegates that there are now just over 200 days until the start of the GST. Taking out weekends, public holidays and needing to be ready at least two months earlier, to ensure systems are in fact working, he said it is more like just over 80 days to go.

He said in spite of enormous changes this century, who could have guessed that at the start of the next century Local Government would become a taxpayer. "This is a major change," he said. "Currently, Councils are not taxpayers and staff are expert in not paying any of the current indirect taxes.

"Every transaction will need to be considered for GST. With $10 billion spent each year by Councils, $1 billion will need to be paid initially. "The challenge for Councils is to ensure they get every bit of this back on behalf of their communities."

Tom Wilson said education is the key, not only for staff but also massaging ratepayers about what to expect. Working with suppliers and assisting local businesses will also ensure a smooth transition across the local community.