Victoria comes to the payroll tax table

4 minute read

GPs in the state are looking to enlist patients in the payroll tax fight, despite warnings from AMA ACT to ease up.

A change in premier has provided renewed hope for GPs in Victoria, who have finally been invited for a meeting with the state tax commissioner.  

RACGP Victoria chair Dr Anita Munoz told The Medical Republic that the college, along with the Primary Care Business Council and Australian General Practice Alliance, had wasted no time in contacting new Premier Jacinta Allan, who stepped into the role just two weeks ago after Dan Andrews’ sudden resignation.  

“We sent a letter last Friday to Premier Allan explaining the issues that we have with payroll tax affecting general practice,” Dr Munoz said.  

“We have been invited to have a discussion with the [state revenue office] and the tax commissioner … which is a very positive development. 

“Prior to our letter to Premier Allan, we’d really had a lot of difficulty getting any purchase on the conversation with the Andrews government. 

“We had sent four [or more] letters to Premier Andrews which did not result in any meaningful conversation, and about which we were despairing,” Dr Munoz said. 

Negotiations have been stalled since August, with RACGP president Dr Nicole Higgins reporting that the Andrews government had refused to commit to not conducting retrospective payroll tax audits on practices, effectively making an amnesty period worthless.  

“[No retrospectivity is] not a position that we’re willing to even have discussions on,” Dr Higgins told a webinar at the time.  

In an effort to ramp up pressure, the RACGP, PCBC and AGPA have also launched a campaign to inform patients about the potential consequences of a payroll tax crackdown on medical centres in Victoria, which also has the lowest payroll tax eligibility threshold in Australia at $700,000 per year.  

A similar patient education campaign in the ACT was abruptly pulled by the AMA’s Canberra branch on 29 September, according to healthcare accountant David Dahm.  

In an email to members, sighted by TMR, AMA ACT president Professor Walter Abhayaratna said the organisation had been contacted by the territory’s Health Service Commissioner about a letter sent to a member of the legislative assembly.  

“The letter, supporting GPs in their fight against the ACT government’s GP payroll tax, has led the Commissioner to seek additional information from the practice,” the email read.  

“While this matter is being resolved, we recommend that campaign materials, particularly those relating to patient-generated letters, be removed from display and that you do not initiate discussions with patients about the GP payroll tax campaign.”  

Dr Munoz said she couldn’t comment on anything happening in the ACT, but that she felt it was “absolutely reasonable” to educate patients about the potential threat of payroll tax.  

“Patients [should] be aware that they have a voice, that their voice is meaningful and that they can exercise their rights to ask the government to protect their health system in Victoria,” she said.  

“RACGP Victoria absolutely recognises that we partner with our patients on everything – we partner with them on their health, and we advocate with them and for them.  

“It is part of our role to advocate for their health system to remain sustainable.”  

Queensland, South Australia, the ACT and NSW have all announced some form of payroll tax amnesty for general practice this year, putting Victoria, Tasmania and the NT in the minority. 

Payroll tax rules are different in WA, meaning it has been largely absent from the conversation.  

Two petitions have now been launched in Victoria, both urging the state government to come to the table and negotiate with practices.  

The first petition is lodged with the Parliament of Victoria and is sponsored by Liberal Party politician Georgie Crozier.  

It argues that classifying tenant doctors as employees for tax purposes is erroneous and that enforcing the law would result in clinically unsafe practices and ultimately put GP practices out of business.  

At time of writing, it has around 3500 signatures. It closes on Friday 13 October.  

The second petition, launched via, was started by the RACGP on 15 September and forms part of its patient-awareness campaign.  

When asked about the first petition, Dr Munoz said it was a testament to “just how widespread the concern is”, that there were multiple people in the community trying to get the government’s attention on payroll tax.  

At time of writing, the RACGP-run petition had about 130 signatures.  

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