At the WA convention, I spoke again on the pressing need for tax reform. Our keynote speaker at the convention, the Hon. Christian Porter, MLA (former Western Australia State Treasurer), reinforced this theme. Christian spoke at length about the constant pressure on government to deliver community services, resulting in increased recurrent expenditure and consequently greater pressure on government revenue collection.
Christian noted that recurrent government expenditure has to be reduced or controlled and redirected to investment that will support economic growth, specifically infrastructure and capital developments.
This is a difficult task at all levels of government.
Importantly, Christian acknowledged the role that The Tax Institute plays in educating practitioners and also noted the huge resource of talent that our membership has and suggested that we should be more active in encouraging the necessary discussion and analysis on tax reform via our conventions and journals. Keith James, Deputy Chair of the Board of Taxation, also made comments along these lines.
No matter which party leads our next parliament, tax reform needs to be on the agenda. We must engage in a national discussion about all of our current taxes and levies in order to resolve the “what, when and how” of building an efficient tax system that will lead to productivity gains in our economy. Such a process should cover not only who pays the tax, but also our social responsibility to be equitable to all, and recognise individuals’ special circumstances and capacity to earn.
Christian’s reminder is timely. I will pursue the inclusion of tax reform as a standard issue for our conventions with National Council. As practitioners, we get heavily involved being “on the tools” so to speak and need to be brought back up to a strategic and community level in our thinking. We as individuals and as the leading professional association in tax have a lot to offer in this debate.
On a different matter, I attended the Board of Taxation consultation forum in Melbourne and was asked to remind members of the Tax Issues Entry System (TIES). This system is designed for taxpayers to raise issues concerning the care and maintenance of the tax and superannuation system. Such issues include minor policy issues or drafting defects in the existing legislation. Both Treasury and the ATO manage the system. Members are encouraged to raise issues.
The Tax Institute is happy to assist in processing your concerns through TIES or appropriate consultation forums. Please contact the Institute and you will be connected to our tax advocacy and policy area. If you wish to learn more about TIES, you can visit www.ties.gov.au.
Till next time...
Stephen Westaway is President of the National Council at The Tax Institute.
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.