Meaningful tax reform in high demand
Comprehensive tax reform continues to dominate wish lists for the upcoming federal budget, with support for change to state-based taxes particularly high, according to a new survey.
Mid-tier firm BDO’s annual tax reform survey of over 250 clients found that 94 per cent agreed that the government should recommence a broad reform process, with more than three-quarters supporting the establishment of a tax reform commission.
The top tax measures respondents believes were in most need of tax reform included states taxes (59 per cent), GST (37 per cent), and personal tax (29 per cent).
“The message for the government is that taxpayers are still waiting for meaningful tax reform,” said BDO national tax director, Lance Cunningham.
“This can only begin with a renewed commitment to a holistic review of the tax system that examines the whole system and not the introduction of a number of piecemeal changes.”
The survey also revealed that 90 per cent of respondents believed that state payroll taxes should be abolished or reduced as they discouraged employment and were a disincentive to growing business, a position challenged by Treasury’s research earlier this month.
Likewise, 70 per cent support an increase in the GST rate and broadening of the GST base to allow for reform to state taxes, although Mr Cunningham concedes that it is typically thrown in the “too hard basket” of tax reform.
Fringe benefits tax continue to make the case for reform, with 75 per cent of those surveyed calling for it to be abolished or replaced with a simplified system of taxing the employees but only on truly remuneration benefits and not on benefits that are incidental or ancillary to their employment duties.
BDO has been actively throwing its support behind reform, with Mr Cunningham noting how the process has “floundered” in recent years.
“BDO fully supports Ken Henry’s call for a return to the Tax Reform process that has floundered in recent years,” Mr Cunningham told Accountants Daily last month.
“The so called ‘root and branch’ tax reform process, that was ignited by Ken Henry’s 2010 Australia’s future tax system report, gave a detailed framework for such a holistic tax reform. However, the tax reform process has turned into a smouldering heap with all sides of politics just picking on single issues instead of looking the bigger picture.
“While the current concentration on company tax rate reductions is justifiable to ensure Australia’s competitiveness in international capital markets, it should not be seen as tax reform.”
By: Jotham Lian and Lance Cunningham, BDO Australia
27 APRIL 2018