We follow the glitter of celebrities and our football teams and let others do the dull work of government. Our dreams are about homes, cars and holidays.
But sometimes an issue is so important it deserves our undivided attention, if only for a short while.
The big issue is tax – who pays and how – toward all the things government does.
The Henry Tax Review maps out the Treasury’s tax agenda. And while politicans come and go, Treasury endures forever.
The Asprey report, comissioned by the Whitlam government, guided and inspired governments and their advisers for the following 25 years. The last tax reform report was the Review of Business Taxation by John Ralph, released in 1999, which focussed on tax avoidance. All the main recommendations of both reviews were implemented and are now part of the tax system.
Henry’s 138 recommendations aren’t designed to make government rich – although vested interests will tell you so, as they wipe away crocodile tears at the injustices being forced upon them.
And the Review does not follow Jean Baptiste Colbert’s maxim, “The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to get the most feathers with the least hissing.”
The Review, supported by a great body of economic thought, is a genuine attempt to tax us fairly, at low cost and without distorting behavior.
The Land Tax recommendations are central to this ambition. Many don’t understand the implications of this proposal and recoil from the idea of a new tax. They only see government plunging its hand in their pocket.
The Review says:
- Land is an efficient tax base because it is immobile; unlike labour or capital, it cannot move to escape tax.
- Economic growth would be higher if governments raised more revenue from land and less revenue from other tax bases.
- Stamp duties on conveyances are inconsistent with the needs of a modern tax system.
- Land tax needs to be reformed.
- Broadening the base of land tax would provide a reliable and stable source of revenue to State governments.
- Land tax rates should be based on the value of a given property, so that the tax does not discriminate between different owners or uses of land.
The arguments for rebasing tax onto land can be found right across the Prosper Australia website.
I commend the Henry Tax Review to you.