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The role of motor vehicle taxes in shaping Australia’s oil policy

Published on 01 Oct 13 by "THE TAX SPECIALIST" JOURNAL ARTICLE

Despite Australia being heavily reliant on foreign oil, with some 80% of transport fuel coming from overseas crude oil or imported fuel, it is surprising that it does not currently have a well-developed oil policy. This article makes a case for why Australia should have a well-developed oil policy and argues that the policy should recognise and respond to Australia’s high reliance on overseas crude oil or imported fuel. In this context, the article critically examines the role of motor vehicle taxes in shaping Australia’s oil policy. It is submitted that the current motor vehicle taxes in Australia are not based on sound environmental tax principles, namely the precautionary principle and the polluter-pays principle, and therefore there is a need to reform motor vehicle taxes in Australia.

It is also submitted that existing motor vehicle taxes are not high enough to effect behavioural changes on motorists’ choice of motor vehicle and have little impact on the sustainability of oil as these taxes were mainly designed with the specific objective of raising revenue. Consequently, existing motor vehicle taxes have not halted the increase in demand for larger cars, including sports utility vehicles that consume more oil. Against this background, the article proposes a framework for motor vehicle tax reform and then offers some concluding comments.

Author profiles:

Author Photo - Dale Pinto CTA-Life
Prof Dale Pinto CTA-Life
is currently Acting Dean of the Curtin Law School and is a Professor of Taxation Law and Head of the Taxation Department of the Curtin Law School at Curtin University. He is Vice-President of the Divisional Council of CPA Australia (WA Division) and is also a Fellow of CPA Australia, a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law and is a Chartered Tax Adviser and Life Member of the Tax Institute. Dale is the author/co-author of numerous books, refereed articles and national and international conference papers, and is on the editorial board of a number of peer-reviewed journals as well as being the Editor-in-Chief of several refereed journals. Dale is the Chair of the Tax Institute's National Education Quality Assurance Board and is a member of TEQSA's Expert Panel in Accounting and Taxation. Dale served as an inaugural member of the National Tax Practitioners Board and is a current member of the Board of Taxation's Advisory Panel and the ATO's Tax Technical Panel (Superannuation), as well as the Tax Institute's Technical Committees (Superannuation, Not-for-Profit Organisations and Large Business and International). Current at 05 February 2016 Click here to expand/collapse more articles by Dale PINTO.
 
Prafula Pearce CTA
Prafula is a lecturer at the Curtin Law School, Department of Business Law, Curtin University, where she has been lecturing since 1996, having previously worked 20 years in the tax profession in Australia and the United Kingdom. Her teaching and research interests are broadly in taxation law, including tax policy and corporations law. She has published widely in many areas of taxation, both nationally and internationally. Her current interest lies in environmental taxation relating to passenger motor vehicles and oil, the area of her PhD thesis entitled, Using tax and regulatory measures to reform choice and usage of motor vehicles for personal transportation in Australia for the sustainability of oil. Current at 01 April 2015 Click here to expand/collapse more articles by Prafula Pearce.
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