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Are Australians taxed too much?

Posted by: Tom Elliott | 4 October, 2011 - 8:54 AM
Wayne Swan

The great Canberra tax summit began on Tuesday, with the Treasurer promising all sorts of exciting reforms that may emerge from the discussions.

In reality, of course, this summit is nothing more than a sop to appease independent MP Rob Oakeshott, on whose vote the government depends for its continued survival.

Thanks to an absence of any real enthusiasm for genuine tax reform, government after government in Australia have continually layered new taxes on top of the old ones.

The end result of this is an income tax act over 10,000 pages long and an overall tax system so complicated that no single person in Australia can be said to understand all of it.

Tax is a necessary part of any civil society, but a tax act incapable of being understood by the average citizen is not.

As a result, if Wayne Swan were to put me in charge of tax reform, here's what I'd do:

First, at present, Australia has over 120 separate taxes. I'd reduce this number by 90% to no more than 12 taxes, and have this total written into the constitution.

Second, no one on a low income should have to either pay tax or fill out a tax return. As a result, I'd lift the tax free threshold from the current $6000 to the minimum wage of around $30,000 per annum. To help pay for this I'd get rid of all personal tax deductions like car and work expenses, thus making tax returns extraordinarily simple.

And finally, I'd get rid of all current state taxes in favour of a higher GST. Sure, this might lead to a sales tax rise from 10% to 20 or even 25%, but people would be compensated by the abolition of many other nuisance taxes like stamp duty.

For the tax summit Canberra to work, a genuine political appetite for reform is needed. Unfortunately, I think the talking shop that we'll get instead will achieve very little apart from, well, talk. A relevant quote my father used to use was "When all is said and done, a lot more will be said than done".

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Blog comments Your Say

  • I feel Australia tax is a rip-off. We are working hard and only getting a super tiny amount back that we could save in the bank for our offsprings.We all know we been taxed like we been rip off by someone, and look at the cost on food, tickets,daily living products,how much have them been increased?? and how much our wage has been increase? I feel like working hard in Aus is meanless, because we can't get anything out from it, but TAX.

    amanda Friday 20 April, 2012 - 6:57 PM
  • Maybe if Austrtalia got its own flag we would not be taxed so much

    col Thursday 6 October, 2011 - 2:33 PM
  • Australia is one of the most heavily taxed nations in the world, we are not as lucky as we once were, but we still have the opportunity to get back on track. With the Mining Tax and the Carbon Tax on the way, we face the prospect of skyrocketing up the rankings of the most taxed nations in the world. According to ritholtz.com we are already the 10th most heavily taxed nation in the world. Furthermore; I am reminded of a well-fitting quote, to the tax debacle we now face. รข??We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle." Winston Churchill - Former UK Prime Minister.

    ScottL Wednesday 5 October, 2011 - 6:28 PM
  • Suspected the 'tax summary' was a farce then I saw John Brumby sitting there with a smile on his face and knew it was all a big con. What was she thinking by dragging out the greatest dud in the world???

    Ralph Wednesday 5 October, 2011 - 9:15 AM
  • What rubbish. We should be looking to the Scandanavian countries instead of whingeing all the time about how much tax we're paying. A flat tax for all earning over $30k, including businesses and corporations.

    Jenlu Tuesday 4 October, 2011 - 5:12 PM
  • Of course we are... with Gillard & Co. intent on taxing us a lot more!
    The so-called Canberra tax summit will be another typical Labor farce - a whitewash of the 'Ranga's rorts'!
    How much money can one government blow?
    Give Labor a billion dollars and they'll blow it.
    Give them a trillion, and they'll blow that too.
    Such is the Labor Party - clueless, inept and just not worthy of a pittance - simply a DISGRACE!!!

    Gerard Tuesday 4 October, 2011 - 5:11 PM

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