Full response from ACOSS

In relation to this FactCheck on Australia and tax, a spokesperson for the Australian Council of Social Service sent the following by email:

As the sixth lowest taxing country in the OECD, there is scope for Australia for an adequate increase in public revenue to ensure we can meet the real impacts of growing health costs and unmet needs in areas such disability services, unemployment payments, and affordable housing. This should be achieved by firstly addressing tax breaks and concessions which do little to help improve employment and economic growth, but do a lot to reduce the revenue raised particularly in the personal and corporate tax systems.

Clear examples are negative gearing and capital gains discounting, discretionary truss and private companies and higher end superannuation tax breaks. This would have the added benefit of ensuring a greater revenue from the existing Medicare Levy. Whoever wins Government will have to take action on both the revenue and expenditure sides of the budget to ensure future sustainability.

(1) We were referring to the OECD revenue statistics (which as you point out rank us 6th lowest in the OECD)

(2) The Treasury paper is here – it’s the Government’s Tax Discussion Paper released last year.

(3) The Australian corporate tax rate is above the OECD average, though comparisons are complicated by our dividend imputation system, which means that company tax is refunded to domestic shareholders.

(4) As the Government’s Tax Discussion Paper shows in chart 2.4 (below), when social insurance taxes are included (as they should be), the share of direct taxes (mainly income taxes) in our overall tax revenue is close to average – not unusually high as some claim.


(5) As the OECD’s Taxing wages publication shows, the overall labour income tax rate for a worker on an average wage is also low by OECD standards.