Australian Tax Research Foundation (ATRF) materials

Making a valuable contribution to the understanding and improvement of Australia's taxation system, the ATRF commissions research, organises conferences and seminars and subsequently publishes numerous papers and articles, the Foundation is instrumental in building an intellectual reservoir of tax reform proposals with the hope of creating a "tax vision" for Australia.

ATRF materials are now available from the Tax Knowledge eXchange for subscribers taking our Online Research option, or may be purchased on an individual basis. Find out more.

Tax research: tips and tricks Work Book

This material is free to Tax Knowledge eXchange subscribers who have a current online research package. This is an accompaniment to the research video.

This paper covers:

  • Google
  • Australian Taxation Office
  • The Tax Institute
  • Australian Parliamentary website
  • Austlii
  • Comlaw
  • And several subscription websites.
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Using tax and regulatory measures to reform choice and usage of motor vehicles paper

This book has been motivated by the need to preserve the scarce oil resources used by motorists for their personal transportation. The inquiry for this research was whether the government of Australia bears some responsibility for influencing Australian motorists’ choice and usage of motor vehicles, in order to reduce oil consumption and preserve this scarce commodity, and whether this responsibility is being achieved within the current regulatory and tax environment.This qualitative research has been conducted by using interpretive description and legal methodology. A tax policy solution has been suggested after investigating the problem by deconstructing prior knowledge in three areas: the status of oil reserves; the characteristics of motor vehicles that impact upon the consumption of oil; and the tax and regulatory measures that have been adopted by other countries to influence the choice and usage of passenger motor vehicles. A critical examination of the various policy options for Australia was conducted to suggest a solution for this identified problem and this book proposes that the best option for Australia is to conduct a comprehensive reform of the motor vehicle taxes and charges and introduce a Luxury Energy Tax (LET) system for motor vehicles based on the precautionary principle and the polluter-pays principle. 

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State taxes reform: A practitioner's viewpoint paper

Do you believe it is time for inefficient State taxes to be reformed? Should stamp duties continue to be charged on residential home purchases? Why are duties still levied on insurance policies?  Such reform cannot begin without alternate financial support being found for the States and Territories if they are to give up their funding streams provided by State taxes.

In this paper, Michael Butler of Finlaysons, who is an experienced State taxes practitioner offers the “tax practitioner’s view” of the operation of these inefficient taxes and why reform in this area is necessary.

This paper is accompanied by a presentation which can be found here.

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Revolutionising state taxes presentation

Do you believe it is time for inefficient State taxes to be reformed? Should stamp duties continue to be charged on residential home purchases? Why are duties still levied on insurance policies? Such reform cannot begin without alternate financial support being found for the States and Territories if they are to give up their funding streams provided by State taxes.

In this presentation, Bruce Carter of Ferrier Hodgson, who is a member of the Federal Government’s panel that is reviewing the way GST is distributed among the States and Territories, gives his thoughts.

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State taxes reform: A practitioner's viewpoint presentation

Do you believe it is time for inefficient State taxes to be reformed? Should stamp duties continue to be charged on residential home purchases? Why are duties still levied on insurance policies?  Such reform cannot begin without alternate financial support being found for the States and Territories if they are to give up their funding streams provided by State taxes.

In this presentation, Michael Butler of Finlaysons, who is an experienced State taxes practitioner offers the “tax practitioner’s view” of the operation of these inefficient taxes and why reform in this area is necessary.

This presentation is accompanied by a paper which can be found here.

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Housing and tax policy paper

Australia, like many other OECD countries, has a wide variety of taxes, tax reliefs and subsidies for housing. Large tax expenditures for home ownership compared to rental housing bias the housing market. Combined with state taxes on housing, these have serious efficiency and distributional consequences. But home ownership remains the Australian Dream and a key form of saving for households and this presents significant political difficulties in carrying out tax reform.

Housing and Tax Policy brings together leading Australian and international experts to shed new light on these policy roblems. Contributors present new analysis of:

  • the size of tax expenditures for housing and their efficiency,price and distributional impact
  • international experience from the United States and Europe, including new research on how home ownership tax expenditures operate to subsidise excessive borrowing and house price risk
  • reforms needed to state duties and land tax for housing in Australia
  • the impact of taxation, including negative gearing, on the supply of affordable rental housing, and designing reforms to increase accessibility of home ownership.
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Proposals for the reform of the taxation of goodwill in Australia paper

This study analyses Australian taxation law as it applies to goodwill. The analysis includes the state tax termed duty (still colloquially referred to as “stamp duty”); Goods and Services Tax (GST); taxation of capital gains (termed “CGT” although not a separate tax in Australia); income tax; and international tax rules. The purpose of the study is to identify the key features of goodwill and the areas in which the Australian approach to taxing goodwill could be reformed. The concluding chapters of the book suggest reforms that would improve the manner in which goodwill is recognised and dealt with in Australian taxation law. The study demonstrates that the current approach is inconsistent, encourages distortion and tax avoidance, and that the different taxes have conflicting effects on business dealings and investment in goodwill. The author’s thesis is that these defects lack justification and that aspects of these defects can be corrected by a clearer definition of goodwill and a more coherent alignment of the taxes affecting goodwill.

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Executing an income tax paper

This volume, like the conference which spawned it, is an attempt to catalogue problems and analyse solutions – to isolate what needs to be fixed and examine how best to fix it. In an attempt to impose some order on the thoughts of the authors, the papers in this volume were deliberately focused around three particular themes: text, structure and process. In it the authors try to isolate individual manifestations of complexity in the text of the statute, to explain which structures are unnecessarily difficult, to explore when and how development processes might lead to better outcomes or where compliance processes might be improved.

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The States and the GST - Demystifying Australian federal/state financial arrangements paper

While there is considerable debate in Australia about the role of the States and their relationship with the Commonwealth, in the Australian  community at large, and even among tax professionals, there is a widespread lack of understanding of the way in which the financial relations between the Commonwealth and the States are organised. As a result, there is a general inability to assess the criticisms being made of the 1999 Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) under which the current earmarking of GST revenue to the States has been agreed with the Commonwealth.

The objective of this publication is to assist in remedying this lack of understanding. It provides an explanation, in terms comprehensible to the intelligent layperson, of the workings of the system under the 1999 IGA, its financial implications, criticisms which have been made, and reform proposals. The publication attempts to take a balanced and neutral approach, rather than to recommend a particular package of reforms. Its intention is to inform, not to persuade.

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Australia's aggregate tax burden paper

This paper looks at a range of government tax and service issues from the point of view of comparing “aggregate tax burdens”. It discusses the use of the tax-to-GDP ratio as an indicator of tax burden and some of the problems that this measure can present. To get meaningful comparisons, it
relates the tax-to-GDP indicator to the purposes for which tax is collected, showing that without these links the tax-to-GDP indicator has a range of weaknesses that can give misleading impressions of government size and tax burden. The paper provides a brief survey of some other issues that may have affected Australia’s tax burden in the past, and which may influence the future scope for change.

The aim of the paper is to get a better understanding of the measures and the issues they address. It is not a paper that ultimately takes sides in the debate about whether tax burdens are too high or too low. The intention is to provide a high level map of the issues, to better inform the political discussion rather than directly participate in it.

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