Tax reform and social welfare: Report of proceedings of a public seminar

Source: Australian Tax Research Foundation

Published Date: 1 Jan 1980


The first paper, by Mr Peter Allen, reviews recent changes in the income security and taxation areas and the effects they have had on income distribution and the numbers of poor people and then goes on to discuss some of the problems associated with current reform proposals. It is followed by Prof. Ronald Henderson's contribution, which outlines his concern at some of the inequalities associated with the present tax systems, describes a number of ways in which it could be improved and points out that changing the tax system alone is not enough, because a great many people who do not pay any taxes at all are in deep poverty.

A contribution by Messrs Daryl Dixon and David Ryder on behalf of the Social Welfare Policy Secretariat brings to attention some of the difficulties of principle and practice, both social and economic, that arise where changes to the tax system are being considered. Mr Ian Wilson outlines the proposals for tax reform and welfare benefits which have been advocated by his parliamentary working party. He describes what his committee sees to be their advantages and how they might be financed. He is followed by Ms Meredith Edwards, who takes up and critically examines at some length what she regards as the major weaknesses of his proposals.

Senator Don Grimes describes some of the practical and political difficulties involved in proposals for reform of the tax and welfare systems and calls for a proper examination and evaluation of proposed and actual welfare programmes to ensure that they do distribute wealth to those in need and do work to the advantage of the poor. Finally, Dr. Peter Groenewegen presents a detailed and carefully argued paper in which he develops a scenario for Australia's tax system through to the mid 80s, discusses some of the tax options which are available to the government and urges that those interested in social welfare should start now to plan a program for a social security package which would be compatible with likely developments in taxation. The seminar concluded with a panel discussion of the issues raised by the speakers. A summary of the comments made follows the speakers' papers and this report concludes with a largely statistical appendix of facts and data relevant to the topic which were prepared by ACOSS and made available to the participants.

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