Friday, October 24, 2008

Weekend reading - hundreds of tax submissions

Some of them predictable

The first batch of submissions to the Henry Review are here.

There may well be some gems among them, but here's what I wrote:

The government’s Henry Tax Review is shaping up to be a lobbyists dream.

Late yesterday the Review published more than 200 submissions on its website, and said it would post more in coming days.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has asked for payroll tax to be scrapped and personal income tax capped at 30%.

British American Tobacco is concerned about the $2.7 billion its customers pay in tobacco excise.

Telstra wants tax concessions to encourage capital investment by business and it wants bigger research and development tax concessions.

And the Investment and Financial Services Association wants to ensure that tax does not act as a barrier to establishing Australia as an international financial services centre...

Many organisations have been given an extension of time to submit wish lists. The Review, chaired by the head of the Treasury Dr Ken Henry, will not report until December 2009.

Among those granted exemptions is the newly formed National Community Tax Forum - made up of the ACTU, Australian Council of Social Service and the Consumers' Federation. It wants the focus put on the low paid.

Forum Chair Professor Julian Disney said the tax system needed to encourage job-creating ``productive investment'', not speculation, singling out negative gearing as a tax break that favoured speculation.

Professor Disney also said there was concern about the structure of the tax rates for the low paid which can discourage them from increasing their hours. He said the tax system was ``upside down'' redistributing ``wealth to the wealthy'' through tax breaks and incentives.

ACTU secretary Jeff Lawrence said he hoped to debunk the myth that Australia was a ``high tax country''.

``It's not,'' he said. Mr Lawrence also attacked the direction of the inquiry and the ``very narrow'' range of people appointed to it. ``It would appear it is being steered in a direction, very generally, a low tax direction, a quite conservative direction.''

- with Ben Schneiders

And here's Richard Denniss of the Australia Institute on the arguments for a new, higher tax rate for very high income earners.