Finance Minister Mathias Cormann is adamant the returned Morrison government has no intention to broaden the GST.
The minister was responding to a newpaper article suggesting the government was being urged by the tax office to broaden the GST to some exempt food items to take into account new eating and packaging.
“We have no plans at all to broaden the base of the GST,” Senator Cormann told reporters in Perth on Saturday.
“If we had such a plan we would have taken it to the Australian people before the election.”
The Australian Taxation Office has also played down the report in the Sydney Morning Herald.
“The ATO’s role is to administer the tax and super systems, and not to advise on policy,” an ATO spokesperson told AAP.
The SMH said it had seen ATO documents arguing for the GST to be imposed on a broader range of foods to end confusion within the food industry.
This included items such packaged salads, brioche buns, and smoothie packs and dried fruits.
“The ATO routinely prepares a range of internal working briefs to consider administrative options, many of which do not progress to Treasury or to government,” the ATO spokesperson said.
In this case, an internal working brief was initiated within the ATO to consider options for an alternative way to identify foods that are exempt from GST.
“The brief has not progressed to Treasury or government,” the spokesperson said.
It is not the first time, GST-free salads have come under the spotlight.
A Senate estimates hearing in early 2017 revealed the tax office was working with industry to review GST guidelines to ensure they adequately reflect the rapidly changing nature of salads or similar products.
However, just two months later the review was abandoned as it was determined it wasn’t going to sufficiently help the industry.