This month marks one year since the Henry Review of the Australian tax system was released by the Government. Even before receiving Dr Henry’s 138 recommendations for reform, the Government’s view was that any changes could take a decade or more to take effect. Considering the report was around 1,000 pages long and policy reform is generally a measured and complicated task, a decade seems a fair estimate.
So when the Federal Government first announced the details of its long-awaited Tax Forum in October, why did it assign only two days? There are six broad areas for discussion at the Forum: Personal Tax, Transfer Payments, Business Tax, State Taxes, Environmental and Social Taxes, and System Governance. On the face of it, that’s a comprehensive and wide-ranging list. Pity then that the two-day plan to consider all of these issues probably won’t do it justice.
Last year, The Tax Institute suggested that the Government convene expert committees, well in advance of the Forum, to examine specialised areas of tax policy and bring considered recommendations forward.
A stronger fiscal position predicted for 2012-13 brings with it a greater prospect of significant tax reform. The Government needs to start the heavy-lifting now, to ensure there is a medium-term plan for reform in the coming years. The Tax Institute will continue to do what we can to lead the debate on tax reform and work towards a better tax system.
Please see below for details of other activities this week.
Robert Jeremenko FTIA