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Estimating the compliance costs of Australia’s carbon pricing scheme


A questionnaire postal survey of 351 Australian emitting entities was undertaken in April/May 2013, sent to each entity’s Chief Financial Officer, with 27 usable responses. The main finding is that Australia’s carbon pricing scheme in 2012-13 imposed overall (indicative) mean tax compliance costs of (around) $456,000, composed of start-up costs of $402,000 (88 per cent) and recurrent costs of $54,000 (12 per cent). The tax compliance costs of Australian carbon pricing, including in terms of pertinent factors (such as per liable emitting site, tax paid and hypothetical ‘compensation’) and basic entity characteristics (such as legal entity, location and size), are analysed and discussed. Expressed on a per liable emitting site basis and subject to certain caveats, the Australian estimates of the compliance costs of carbon pricing are broadly comparable to those in Germany, the only country for which comparable data is available. A comparison of  the main findings of this research in terms of previous tax compliance costs studies worldwide is undertaken.

This article should be seen as an initial step towards a better understanding of carbon pricing compliance costs that have been neglected by governments and researchers worldwide to date.

Author profile:

Prof Jeffrey Pope
Jeff is Professor and Director of the Tax Policy Research Unit , school of Economics and Finance, Curtin University. Current at 01 April 2014 Click here to expand/collapse more articles by Jeff POPE.
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