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29 Jul 11 Preamble - Friday 29 July 2011

As that great Aussie character, Darryl Kerrigan, might say: "Tax reform in two days? Tell 'em they're dreaming". I couldn't agree more.

Now that the long-awaited discussion paper for the Government's tax forum has been released, shouldn't we expect more clarity around goals and more detail about the format? While it is good to see that the forum will be broken down into sessions around key areas of the taxation system, tax reform is too important to be rushed over a two-day discussion.

The Tax Institute has long called for a measured and structured approach to tax reform. We need a timeline for reform and a process for taking the debate forward beyond the October forum.

What's missing in the Government's discussion paper is detail about the format of the forum and the ultimate objectives of the whole exercise. How are 150 different people with at least 300 different points of view on varying aspects of the tax system going to produce a strategic tax reform roadmap for the future?

The discussion paper is a blueprint of some of the key issues already widely canvassed in the Henry Tax Review, which was billed as a 'once in a generation opportunity for reform'.

The biggest fear for tax professionals is that once the two days of discussions are over, the only tangible output will be a warm glow and a communiqué calling for more discussion.

The Great Tax Debate

The Tax Institute is holding its own tax reform event in Sydney on 31 August called 'The Great Tax Debate'. While not in competition with the Government's tax forum, the Great Tax Debate will provide a platform for real tax reform discussion and undertake some preparatory work that is crucial ahead of the October forum. 

'The Great Tax Debate: Constructing Tomorrow's Tax System', will consist of presentations by around five key players representing business, the tax profession, academia, economists and social welfare experts followed by a Q&A panel session with the speakers. The presentations will focus on topics such as:

  • Architecture of the tax system (broad overview, tax mix, international comparisons);
  • Personal tax (including retirement and superannuation);
  • Business tax (including resources rents);
  • Indirect taxes (including but not limited to GST);
  • Compliance/Governance issues (including operation and governance of the institutions that are central to the tax system); and
  • Process of reform - implementation, fiscal federalism, COAG & Federal/State Government relations.

We are currently in the process of confirming all speakers for this event. The papers presented by these speakers will then be published in a special edition of the (September) Blue Journal - just in time to set the scene for members ahead of the Government's Tax Forum. The event will lead into the formation of working groups to further explore ideas for tax reform and to ensure the national debate on tax reform continues.

You can register your interest in attending here.

Please see below for details of other activities this week.

Kind regards

Robert Jeremenko FTIA


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