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Tax reform professionals say GST must be on summit agenda

Publication date: 11 Jan 11 | Source: THE TAX INSTITUTE

Excluding GST from the forthcoming Tax Summit would be like conducting a forensic examination of Australia's Ashes campaign without speaking to the selectors, the country's leading professional association in tax said today.

The Taxation Institute of Australia says it is disappointed with Prime Minister Julia Gillard's reported comments that examining the rate of GST won't be on the Summit agenda.

"The GST is a $50 billion revenue raiser in the Australian tax system and ring-fencing it from scrutiny simply makes no sense," said Institute Senior Tax Counsel Robert Jeremenko.

Mr Jeremenko said the Government needs to break tax reform into manageable pieces and put it into the hands of experts long before conducting the Summit proper.

"Given the volume of material to be discussed at the Tax Summit, the Government must establish technical working groups of tax professionals to examine options for specific areas of reform," Mr Jeremenko said.

"This doesn't exclude public comment but manages it in a way that balances policy principles with sectoral interests.

"Dealing with all parts of the whole is the only way to approach reforming complicated tax policy areas."

The Taxation Institute of Australia says the delay in announcing details, including the format and timing of the Tax Summit is disappointing, given that four months have elapsed since the September 2010 agreement with the Independents.

"The Henry Tax Review was hailed by the Treasurer as ‘a once in a generation opportunity for reform' but little has occurred since the announcement of the Tax Summit to show the Government is serious about taking up that challenge.

"The Tax Summit is a prime opportunity to discuss reform, such as bringing in the pest exterminator to eradicate a ragtag collection of state taxes that are acting as a brake on business and imposing an intolerable burden on broader economic reform."

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About the Taxation Institute of Australia:  The Taxation Institute is Australia's leading professional association in tax.  Working together with the tax profession they aim to improve the tax system and the delivery of tax services through education, sharing of information and consultation.

For more information:

Robert Jeremenko, Senior Tax Counsel, Taxation Institute of Australia -  02 8223 0011, M 0468 987 300

Craig Regan, Lighthouse Communications - 02 9692 8811, 0408 448 527