The Tax Institute welcomes the opportunity to make a submission in response to the call by the Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services, the Hon Stephen Jones MP, on 5 December 2022 for such submissions regarding priorities for the Federal Budget 2023–24.
Consultation, both public and confidential, are crucial to the development of policy and ensuring our tax and transfer systems are fit for purpose, achieving policy outcomes without imposing unnecessary burdens on Australians.
In the development of this submission, we have closely consulted with our National Technical Committees and broader membership to prepare a considered response that outlines the key issues related to the Australian tax, transfer and superannuation systems that should be prioritised by the Government.
The Federal Budget is fundamental for establishing the current and future economic direction of Australia and its wider community. Its importance cannot be understated, particularly following the past few years, where the Australian community has faced a number of significant obstacles. These include the spate of natural disasters, rising cost-of-living pressures, economic volatility and the residual impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the current economic climate, it is crucial that the Australian community has certainty of tax policies and law to enable them to make decisions that support and grow their businesses, livelihoods and the economy. This can be achieved by the Government addressing the extensive number of announced but unenacted measures (ABUMs) and providing its response to outstanding Board of Taxation (Board) reviews.
As noted in Australia's Future Tax System Review Final Report (the Henry review) delivered in December 2009, complexities within the tax system place considerable costs on the community. Since the Henry review, there have been additional tax and superannuation measures introduced that have resulted in additional complexity within these systems. The Tax Institute is of the view that the Government should promptly address areas of excessive complexity that apply to a large portion of the taxpayer community. These include resolving the inefficiency of the fringe benefits tax (FBT) regime, simplifying superannuation measures and addressing the inherent complexities of the taxation of trusts. Reforming these areas will significantly reduce uncertainty and compliance costs for taxpayers. This will also enable the ATO to allocate resources, previously dedicated to these areas, to other priority areas.
Tax and transfer concessions and incentives can be effective to incentivise consumer behaviour or promote growth in targeted industries. We consider that 2023 is an opportune time to explore how this can be used to encourage investment in environmental sustainability and address the skilled labour shortage. Further, it provides an opportunity to assess how Australia’s tax, transfer and superannuation systems can balance current priorities, such as repaying Australia’s debt but still support economic growth.
It is important that these measures support future generations and are resilient to unexpected disruption that will inevitably occur. In this respect, we consider it paramount that a longer term outlook is prioritised in developing tax policy, in particular, commencing the consultation on holistic tax reform as noted in detail in our July 2021 Case for Change discussion paper. We urge the Government to lead this discussion and act on our recommendations with the longer-term objective to achieve efficiency, simplicity and equity in our tax, transfer and superannuation systems.