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The Rudd government’s changes to fringe benefit tax concessions on cars is good environmental policy, but bad news for the manufacturing sector. AAP

Manufacturing threatened by Rudd’s changes to car tax deductions

The decision to terminate the statutory formula method under the fringe benefits tax regime will have significant ramifications on the car industry, the local car manufacturing industry and employment…
This year’s federal budget failed to provide any hint of meaningful tax reform for businesses and individuals. Image from

A budget for citizens — but where is the tax reform vision?

Budget night has come and gone again. For those sad folks (I count myself among them) who follow tax and fiscal policy obsessively, it’s the most glamorous night of the year. But the budget does matter…
Despite the notorious unreliability of forward estimates, the government has included projections for a 10-year period in this year’s federal budget. Image from

Government takes a punt on rubbery forward estimates, while ignoring tax reform agenda

When assessing some of the assumptions underpinning Wayne Swan’s 2013 federal budget, two things spring to mind: the Henry Tax Review and the notorious inaccuracy of forward estimates. History shows it…
The kind of tax reform being called for by groups such as the Business Council of Australia can only come about if politics and vested interests are put aside.

Meaningful tax reform? Only if everything is on the table

There can be no dispute with last week’s call from the Business Council of Australia for meaningful tax reform. This is a larger issue than both the looming budget and September’s election. However, it…
The Gillard government’s changes to the tax treatment of superannuation make for a more complex system, rather than a more equitable one. AAP

Illogical tax tinkering won’t lead to a sustainable super system

Today, the Australian government announced additional taxation of high income funds in the decumulation or retirement stage of investments in superannuation. Arguably, the changes add more to complexity…
The mining tax is fraught with significant design issues. But can it be fixed? AAP

Reforming the mining tax: is it possible?

The Commonwealth government’s mining tax, the minerals resource rent tax (MRRT), has been a continuing source of controversy. It is easy to point to its significant problems, but a considerable challenge…
The abolition of royalties, as well as fluctuations in iron ore and coal prices, have had an effect on the mining tax’s capacity to generate revenue. AAP

Mining tax design is responsible for revenue shortfall

Why hasn’t the Minerals Resources Rent Tax (MRRT) produced significant revenue? The answer lies in a combination of basic features of the MRRT design, and the recent fluctuation in prices of iron ore and…
The case for significant, productivity-enhancing tax reform has been made by the Henry Review - but the challenge will be for meaningful reform not to swallowed by pre-election noise. AAP

Chance for meaningful tax reform recedes in looming election hue and cry

Reform of Australia’s taxation system has to be high on the agenda to raise national productivity, for greater simplicity, and to improve equity. However, because of the magnitude of the challenges to…
Billionaire US investor Warren Buffett pays less tax than his secretary - but Australia has its own anomalies. AAP

Is it time for Australia to tackle its Warren Buffett-style tax anomalies?

In his 2012 State of the Union address US President Barack Obama lamented the fact that billionaire Warren Buffett faces a lower tax rate on his income than his secretary. The situation arises because…
Despite the lack of any substantial reform, last week was quite a big week for Australia’s tax system.

Company tax and the limits of politics

Last week was quite a big week in tax, although when the dust had settled it was not clear what — if anything — had really happened. First, the Treasurer announced in the Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook…
The GST is off-limits for both political parties, but a restructure could result in an increase in national productivity and incomes. Image from

Reforming GST is the key to productivity growth

With appropriate investment in design and explanation, a larger GST reform package could be one of the most effective and easiest options to help reverse Australia’s lagging productivity growth. Changes…
The lowering of the tax-free threshold on online purchases is stomping on the long tail of retail. DGaston7564

Online GST push places an unfair burden on pop culture lovers

Will the long tail of the internet be docked by the fastidious imposition of GST to online purchases? Australian retailers have been lobbying the federal government to up the ante on online GST by lowering…
The Coalition has ruled out increasing GST, despite calls from former Prime Minister John Howard for GST to apply to food. But could a policy change be in the wings? AAP

Coalition must come clean on plans for GST

There is almost unanimous agreement among mainstream economists, tax experts, Treasury, business and even politicians (albeit very quietly) that the Goods and Services Tax will have to be increased and…
Former politician and economist John Hewson speaks to ANU’s Crawford School’s Bruce Chapman and Daniel Connell.

John Hewson: tax reform doesn’t just mean lowering taxes

Welcome to the latest in our In Conversation series, between former politician and economist Dr John Hewson, Australian National University (ANU) Crawford School Director of Policy Impact Professor Bruce…
Improving the transparency and evaluation of major infrastructure projects is one way to increase productivity. AAP

Budget provides a chance to carve out the path to higher productivity

Productivity growth results in more valued output per unit of production input, or the same output for fewer inputs. Growth of productivity requires changes involving the adoption of new technology, better…
Flat earth approach: the tax burden on housing accounts for much of the financing cost of a new home. AAP

How taxing housing diminishes affordability

A fundamental truism of economics is that if you tax something, you get less of it. Tax is thus a good place to start in seeking to explain why Australia’s housing market is chronically under-supplied…
Cutting company tax rates reflects Labor’s continuing acceptance of a neoliberal agenda when it comes to tax reform. AAP

Here’s a novel reform idea - tax the rich

The introduction of the Minerals Resource Rent Tax into federal parliament marks the next step in Labor’s neoliberal tax reform agenda. Another example, the carbon tax, is poised to pass through the Senate…
Ken Henry at the Tax Forum: talkfest or useful? AAP

Missed anything from the Tax Forum? Catch up here…

So the Tax Forum is done and dusted. Was it simply a talk-fest? Or a useful exchange of ideas? We’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, if you missed anything, don’t despair: we’ve collected some of…
Carers lose out in the current welfare system. Flickr/dominikgolenia

Tax Forum: Make the social security system fair

Almost 50 cents of every dollar spent by governments in Australia goes on social spending - either social security or health and community services. This week’s tax forum must reform the system, as the…

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