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Raise top tax rates, not the GST


This paper argues that increasing the GST, by raising the rate above 10 per cent while retaining the current tax base, or by broadening the base to include all forms of consumption expenditure, does not offer a solution to the widely perceived problems of the Australian tax system. The direct, regressive effects of such GST changes are well understood. We argue here that when we also take into account the effects of the measures, generally accepted as a corollary of the policy, that are required to compensate low income households, not only will the regressive distributional effects be exacerbated, but serious losses of economic efficiency will also result. Our analysis supports the proposition that raising tax rates across top incomes would be a far more equitable and less distortionary reform than raising the GST.

Author profiles

Ray Rees
Ray works for University of Munich, University of Warwick and CESifo.
  • Current at 1 November 2013
  • Patricia APPS
    Patricia Apps is Professor of Public Economics in the Faculty of Law, University of Sydney, Adjunct Professor in the Economics Program, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra, Adjunct Professor at the University of Technology, Sydney, and a Research Fellow at IZA
    Current at November 2013
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