With The Tax Summit: Project Reform well underway, The Tax Institute is leading the charge towards meaningful tax reform. We have passed the half way mark in our build up program to the Virtual Summit next month.
Through the series of focus sessions and keynote addresses, we have been engaging in thought-provoking debates and gathering ideas from our members to advocate for a positive case for change to reform Australia’s tax system. These events have been the forums for contemporary tax reform debate from economic, democratic and social perspectives.
From the inception of Project Reform, we have taken the view that nothing is off the table. The Tax Institute encourages diversity of opinion, healthy debate and continuous high calibre discussions for the remainder of the program and the journey towards tax reform.
Here is a roundup of the journey towards tax reform so far.
Keynotes sparking inspiration
Keynote 1 – Chris Richardson
In the first keynote address of the program, Chris Richardson, Director of Deloitte Access Economics, argued for shifting the tax burden towards taxes that don’t hurt the economy, such as municipal rates and land tax, rather than those that do, for example, stamp duty and company income tax.
Keynote 2 – The Hon Peter Costello AC
Genuine tax reform requires substantial expert consultation and courageous political leadership. To paraphrase the Hon. Peter Costello AC, who served as the Federal Treasurer from 1996 to 2007, in his keynote address, tax reform is not for the fainthearted.
Keynote 3 – Danielle Wood
Previous successful tax reforms have been presented as a package of measures where taxpayers could point to instances of gains and losses but overall, the package was regarded as beneficial for the system as a whole. Danielle Wood, CEO of the Grattan Institute, in her keynote address, discussed how this is especially the case when the objective of the package is revenue-based sustainability and protection.
Keynote 4 – Rosheen Garnon, CTA
In our most recent keynote address, Rosheen Garnon, CTA, Chair of the Board of Taxation, spoke about black letter laws, the need to reduce red tape to make it easier for Australian business to operate in a global environment, and working with the ATO to create solutions for tax practitioners.
Delving into the details: insightful focus sessions
Focus Session 1: Retirement and Wealth
Our expert panellists, Phil Broderick, CTA, Sladen Legal and Ian Raspin, CTA, BNR Partners, joined our Senior Advocate, Robyn Jacobson, CTA, in Focus Session 1 to discuss the complexities and issues within the current superannuation system, in the context of taxation of retirement income, intergenerational wealth transfer and inheritance taxes.
Focus Session 2 – Business Taxation: SMEs and family businesses
Pervasive issues such as those stemming from the current imputation system were considered during Focus Session 2. Panellists John Ioannou, CTA, Deloitte Private, Mark Molesworth, CTA, BDO and Andrew Noolan, CTA, Brown Wright Stein Lawyers examined concerns about refundable excess franking credits and the associated benefits provided to SMSFs (in pension phase), as well as the confusing interaction with the base rate entity rules whereby a corporate tax entity’s tax rate can vary from year to year, as can its franking rate.
Focus Session 3 – Business Taxation: Global and Transnational Businesses
During Focus Session 3, panellists Michelle de Niese, Corporate Tax Association, Paul Abbey, PwC, and our Director of Tax Policy and Technical, Andrew Mills, CTA (Life), called for a tax mix switch away from income and corporate taxes and towards greater reliance on consumption taxes. A shift towards consumption taxes will undoubtedly fuel deeper and divisive discussion during Focus Session 8 – GST and Indirect Taxation.
Focus Session 4 – Business Taxation: Small Business Tax Concessions
When sharing their views on the optimal and most impactful option for reform, presenters Leanne Connor, CTA, WGC Business Advisors and Linda Tapiolas, CTA, Cooper Grace Ward Lawyers in Focus Session 4 suggested a range of options for the simplification and consolidation of the small business CGT concessions.
Focus Session 5 – Personal Taxation and Transfer Entitlements
In Focus Session 5, facilitated by The Tax Institute’s President, Peter Godber, CTA, panellists Dr Ann Kayis-Kumar, UNSW and Professor Miranda Stewart, CTA, ANU & UniMelb, discussed the inequity of the current design of Australia’s personal income tax, transfers and savings systems. The conversations highlighted a key area concern in the disincentives to workforce participation of ‘secondary earners’ who are typically women, especially those with young children.
More to come in The Tax Summit: Project Reform event series
The penultimate keynote address will be delivered on Friday this week by Greg Smith, Former Head of the Treasury Budget and Revenue Group. This will be followed by the final keynote session on 13 November, presented by one of Australia’s leading social commentators, Bernard Salt AM.
This week, on 4 November, we will be joined by Marg Marshall, CTA, WLF Accounting & Advisory as facilitator, and panellists, Paul Ellis, CTA, EY, and Paul Hockridge, CTA, Mutual Trust. The panel will consider how current employment taxes measure up against the cornerstones of good tax law and policy.
Innovation will be theme of the penultimate focus session. Facilitated by Steve Ford, CTA, PwC, panellists, Minh Dao, CTA, KPMG and Mariana von Lucken, CTA, HLB Mann Judd, will examine the role played by the tax system in encouraging innovation and removing barriers to create jobs and increase investment in Australian businesses.
Widespread concerns around the unfairness and volatility of the taxation of property transfers, and potential pathways for reform (for example, the abolition of stamp duty and replacement with land tax) will be unpacked in the final focus session facilitated by Neil Warren, UNSW with Heydon Miller, CTA, Orange Chambers and Simon Tisher, CTA, Victorian Bar as panellists.
This month, we will also hold an exciting series of roundtable discussions to engage with members of industries beyond the tax profession. While the program’s focus sessions have centred around issues and pathways for reform identified by members of the tax profession, the roundtable discussions are a chance to involve external stakeholders in the debate
Finally, Project Reform culminates in a Virtual Summit event, held on 24 – 25 November. At this event, we will review and delve into the ideas raised in the Focus Sessions and keynotes, to hone-in on, refine and prioritise some of the potential solutions for reform.
Tax reform will not happen overnight. History has shown that it can take decades to implement significant tax reform. Tax reform will not happen in isolation either, and we are working closely with other leading professional bodies to ensure the outcomes are beneficial overall for all Australians.
The Tax Institute is steadfast in our resolve to achieve meaningful, holistic tax reform. We are in it for the long haul and we are not fainthearted. Join us for the journey and be part of the movement.