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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Australian Tax Reform

Australia’s Future Tax System Review Panel formed in May 2008 released its final report to the Federal Treasurer on 12/23/09 (ABC News). The report won't be made public until 2010.

Per documents on the Panel's website, the review of the tax system was extensive and over 1,000 public comments were received. The Panel's website notes that its objective was to create
"a tax-transfer structure that will position Australia to deal with its demographic, social, economic and environmental challenges, and enhance Australia's economic, social and environmental wellbeing." The review considered both national and subnational taxation, the role and size of government, trends in society and ways of doing business such as increased globalization, environmental issues including climate change, changes in technology, simplification and equity.

Per a May 2008 press release, a comprehensive study of the tax system had not been performed for 50 years. However, the study did not include the GST.

Per the Panel's website: "The Review took a ‘root and branch’ approach and examined Australian and State government taxes, and interactions with the transfer system in order to make recommendations to position Australia to deal with the demographic, social, economic and environmental challenges that lie ahead."

I look forward to reading the final report. I think it is interesting and appropriate that the Panel considered how changes in demographics, the workforce, technology, environmental concerns, world markets and more might require changes to the tax system. It is also interesting that they considered federal-state interrelationships since what one level of government does with its tax system affects other levels and economic growth, societal well-being and environmental goals will best be achieved with the national and state governments work together rather than at cross purposes.

While the final report has not yet been released, there is a lot of background information on the Panel's website.

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