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The unconvincing case for 25%


This article examines several elements of the case currently being advanced for reducing Australia’s corporate tax rate to 25%. In essence, the proposal is for an immediate, certain and widely dispersed revenue loss wagered in the hope of triggering a contingent and deferred response from a narrow target. The article revisits the history of this proposal and the development of the argument in the last two decades. It then queries some impressions embedded in the current debate — that the proposal is for a tax cut, that a 30% rate on commercial profit is actually paid (or meant to be paid) by most companies, that the imputation system will negate much of the cost of the lost revenue and that most foreign investors will benefit from a reduced corporate rate. The article concludes that, while the proposal may be sensible for other reasons, the case currently being made is unconvincing.

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Prof Graeme Cooper FTI
Photo of author, Graeme COOPER Prof. Graeme Cooper, FTI, is Professor of Taxation Law at the University of Sydney and a consultant to Greenwoods & Herbert Smith Freehills. He is a former Chair of the New South Wales State Council of The Tax Institute and former member of the National Council. He has worked as a consultant to the ATO, Treasury, Board of Taxation, United Nations, OECD, World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and several foreign governments. He was admitted to legal practice in New South Wales and Victoria, and practised commercial law and tax in Sydney before entering teaching. He has taught in law schools in Australia, Europe and the United States, and holds degrees from the University of Sydney, University of Illinois and Columbia University, New York. - Current at 31 October 2019
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