Celebrating 70 years of supporting the tax profession: 1950s
Last month, we related the founding of The Tax Institute in a special anniversary edition of Taxation in Australia. This month, we look at the Institute’s history during the booming 1950s and 1960s, as it begins to take the shape of the organisation we know today.
After a long period of depression and war, the 1950s marked the beginning of a period of economic strength. In Australia, the government and the country’s tax landscape were largely stable and there were low levels of unemployment.
Things were looking up, and Australia was beginning to make an appearance on the world stage with a wave of European migration, the Queen’s visit in 1954, and the Olympics held in Melbourne in 1956.
The Tax Institute was incorporated as a company limited by guarantee in the Australian Capital Territory on 15 July 1952, and by 1953, membership had grown to a respectable 1,275. The first membership committee was formed in 1953, along with the legislation and service committee, a publicity committee and a tax administration committee.
Since its inception, The Tax Institute was actively involved in organising submissions to Treasury for the betterment of the tax system. In 1950, the Institute was invited to discuss with the newly formed Commonwealth Committee on Taxation any suggested amendments to the Commonwealth Income Tax Assessment Act.
Some of the Institute’s suggestions were later adopted, including the merging into one levy of social services contribution and income tax, the reversion to a system of treating concessional allowances for dependants, medical, dental and optical expenses, life insurance premiums, rates on non-income-producing property and gifts, by way of a direct deduction from a taxpayer’s assessable income (instead of by way of rebate as previously) and the replacement of the former closely graduated scale of rates by a system of “stepped” rates applicable to various brackets of income.
Despite only occasional success, the valuable contributions and dedication by committee volunteers and tax experts meant that advocating for change to benefit the tax-paying public continued well into the 1950s and 1960s and beyond.
The 1950s also marked the expansion of the Institute’s education offerings, with the first national convention held in Katoomba in 1954, with 47 attendees. Attendees participated in games of bowls, golf and tennis. The convention became an annual event, moving to Bowral in the late 1950s and 113 delegates attending by 1960.
In 2013, The Tax Institute is celebrating 70 years of supporting the tax profession.
The Tax Institute is Australia’s leading professional association in tax. Its 13,000 members include tax agents, accountants and lawyers as well as tax practitioners in corporations, government and academia.