Strengthening the case for policy and tax reform

We sit down with Prof. John Freebairn from the University of Melbourne to chat about the session he’ll be presenting at the upcoming Financial Services Taxation Conference in February 2014 on the Gold Coast.

John Freebairn holds the Ritchie Chair of Economics at the University of Melbourne. His research interests include the analysis of policy reform options for taxation, with publications in Australian economics and taxation journals. He has provided advice on taxation reform to the Labor and Coalition parties of the commonwealth and to the Victorian government.

What does the Financial Services Taxation conference mean to you, and more broadly, to the tax industry?

The conference is an opportunity to discuss with actual taxation practitioners some of the challenges and options for reforming Australia’s taxation system to support a more productive economy, to improve equity and to provide revenue for the likely growing expenditure programs of the commonwealth, state and local governments.

What topic are you presenting?

I’ll be giving an overview of (a) the case for tax reform, (b) building on from the Henry Review, a broader and more comprehensive set of potential tax reform options for the medium term and (c) some speculation on the path to political strategies to achieve actual tax reform.

What can attendees expect to learn from your session?

An overview of the Henry Review of 2010, with additional consideration of reforms involving the GST and taxation of superannuation. Posing some priorities for consideration by the new government’s proposed reviews of taxation and of federal-state financial relations.

What new or hot topics will you cover?

The case for taxation reform has to be strengthened, and with more thought on the criteria to assess different reform options. A broader base and higher GST rate as part of a tax package to replace state stamp duties and to lower income tax rates, especially at the lower end. Review of options to replace the current hybrid mess of different taxes on different investment and saving options. The processes for achieving political support for taxation reform, and then investment of political capital in selling to the community reform options, are important topics requiring more thought.

How will attending your session help delegates help their clients?

Taking another look at the big picture case for tax reform.

Which other sessions at the conference are you most interested in attending?

Most, and in particular international tax issues.

What do you like to do when you’re not knee-deep in tax?

Family and friends, gardening and tennis.

2014 Financial Services Taxation Conference

The 2014 Financial Services Taxation Conference is the flagship event in the financial services taxation calendar and attracts practitioners and in-house tax advisers from across Australia to discuss current issues within the financial services area.

Find out more about the conference and register now.


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