Time for a rethink on tax reform in Australia

The Australian Government’s Tax White Paper should squarely focus on outcomes that enhance Australia’s competitiveness – the ability to encourage investment, consumption, and savings, job creation, and improved standards of living. It should not be just about shoring up flagging tax revenues.

CPA Australia is committed to tax reform that will enhance Australia’s competitiveness, and we remain a leading advocate of the need for a package of interconnected tax reform measures, rather than a series of standalone reforms.

The linchpin to any significant and sustainable tax reform in Australia is to move Australia’s tax mix away from its over-reliance on income taxes on both companies and individuals – towards taxes on consumption, and in particular the goods and services tax (GST).

Australia must also address the numerous taxes imposed by all levels of government when only ten of the 125 taxes collect around 90 per cent of the revenue.

The delayed white paper that might turn yellow?

30 March 2015

CPA Australia has welcomed the formal start of the Government’s tax reform discussion process, but has cautioned that we need to get moving.

CPA Australia chief executive Alex Malley said that even though it’s being released months late, the tax reform discussion paper represents the start of a critical debate for Australia’s future prosperity.

“If Australia is to be globally competitive we need a revitalised tax mix that better positions our country to deal with the demographic, social, economic and environmental challenges of the 21st century,” Mr Malley said.

“We already know the issues. We need to look at personal and business taxes and incentives for retirement savings. The rate and base of the GST must be considered, along with the impact of the digital economy and the range of state taxes.

“A critical hurdle will be our ability to have a mature and rational discussion about the GST. It’s not the entire debate but it’s a big part and it mustn't be allowed to become a distraction.

“CPA Australia’s tax reform report released last month showed that the fear and misinformation often associated with GST discussions is misplaced. Our report paints a comprehensive picture of how changes to the GST will impact households and the broader economy.

“What our report shows is that additional GST revenue can be used to abolish a number of inefficient state taxes and also provide for personal income tax cuts and compensation for low income households, while also boosting economic growth.

“It is the packaging of changes to the GST with the removal of other taxes that is critical, and is so often missing when it comes to the GST debate.

“We all know that modernising, simplifying and improving the efficiency of our tax system is critical to our future prosperity.

“Given the tax revenue challenges our nation is facing we really should be bringing the process forward rather than pushing it back.

“With the start of the tax reform discussion already months late, by the time the final white paper is released it may well have turned yellow.

“This is a time for real leadership from politicians on both sides of the political fence so we can have the calm and rational discussion we need about the best tax mix for our country,” Mr Malley said.

Bryce Prosser
P: 0416 968444