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Patients Could Pay More After GP Tax Rules Tweaked: Doctor’s Associations

Patients could end up paying more after the Queensland government in Australia tweaked its tax rules to compel general practices to pay thousands or millions to state coffers.

Leading doctor’s associations issued the warning after the state changed the way GPs were taxed in response to a court ruling in New South Wales.

The change would see GPs classified as employees rather than contractors, which would trigger payroll tax obligations. Payroll tax is paid by a business when the amount of wages exceeds a certain threshold.

The move prompted the Queensland Revenue Office to send letters to GPs advising them they owed money to the tax office.

One GP, Dr. Aaron Chambers, said he received a bill dating back three years, which swallowed up his practice’s profit.

“We certainly do not make a mint. But we do take pride in serving our community. Any small business must turn a small profit to remain viable, and this change of rules is unworkable,” Chambers said in a statement released by the Australian Medical Association Queensland (AMAQ).

“This bill means patients are going to have to pay more, and it is absolutely unviable to continue bulk billing if this is applied. This is a tax on patients seeing their GP.”

Bulk Billing At Risk, Warns President

AMAQ President Dr. Maria Boulton warned the tax could be “crippling” for bulk billing—where health service payments are covered by Australia’s universal healthcare system Medicare.

“It is simply not viable for practices to continue bulk billing while having to pay unexpected bills of millions of dollars in some cases,” she said in a statement.

“Bulk billing will disappear completely and patients will go to emergency departments instead, overwhelming hospitals.”

While Dr. Nicole Higgins, president of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners warned it could impact rural services.

“Practices with two or more full-time equivalent GPs will be affected. So, it’s particularly bad news for rural and remote communities, which are often served by small practices with only a few very hard-working GPs,” she said.

In response, the Queensland Revenues Office denied any changes to tax assessments saying the bill increases were due to more stringent compliance checks.

“QRO has reviewed the [New South Wales] decision and has not identified any aspect that it considers changes the scope, practice or approach to payroll tax in Queensland,” the Office told AAP in a statement in November.

“The treatment of Queensland medical practices in relation to payroll tax has not changed since 2008.”

Daniel Y. Teng

Daniel Y. Teng is based in Sydney. He focuses on national affairs including federal politics, COVID-19 response, and Australia-China relations. Got a tip? Contact him at

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