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Nance Frawley Tax Reform: Critically Examining the Leaks.

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Presentation on theme: "Nance Frawley Tax Reform: Critically Examining the Leaks."— Presentation transcript:

1 Nance Frawley Tax Reform: Critically Examining the Leaks

2 2 What’s so interesting about tax and tax reform? So much more than revenue raising Social engineering Product of political compromises and the power of interest groups Tax Reform After Henry

3 3 Where are many of the leaks? 2 distinct types of provisions in tax legislation: 1.Tax technical provisions – dealing with tax base (what/who gets taxed),tax administration and collection etc 2.Tax expenditures- provide tax subsidies by way of deductions, offsets/rebates/credits, deferral allowances etc -> the leaks Tax Reform After Henry

4 The usual focus of tax reviews On revenue raising Not on reforming tax expenditures- continually overlooked yet promise the greatest gains for increasing the integrity of the tax system T AX R EFORM A FTER H ENRY 4

5 5 How significant is the impact of tax expenditures on our tax system? VERY Approx 340 tax expenditures, costing approximately $102 billion (taken from the 2008-09 Tax Expenditures Statement) Approx. 100 new tax expenditures added in past 10 years, only 30 removed Tax Reform After Henry

6 6 Advantages and Disadvantages Why are tax expenditures part of our tax system when such provisions deal with government spending rather than revenue raising? -> increased complexity -> increased instability -> poor targeting ‘ Cost savings’ questionable Tax Reform After Henry

7 7 Can the costs of tax expenditures be accurately determined? ‘Revenue forgone’ approach Different from budget costings Questionable accountability Tax Reform After Henry

8 8 On what criteria should tax expenditures be assessed? Usual tax policy analysis centres on concepts of FAIRNESS,EFFICIENCY & SIMPLICITY-> Concepts that cannot be used to assess spending programs Tax Reform After Henry

9 9 4 stage enquiry (Professor Neil Brooks) 1.Does the tax expenditure serve a valid govt objective? 2. Does it meet budgetary criteria? 3. Is it the appropriate policy instrument or are there better alternatives? 4. If it should be delivered thru the tax system, what method ie credit, deduction etc? Tax Reform After Henry

10 10 R&D tax concessions- a tax expenditure of questionable merit Currently 125% tax deduction, in certain circumstances 175% tax deduction for ‘eligible’ R&D- ‘eligible’ -> quite broad companies with t/o less than $2m refundable offset Changing to a two tiered credit system: -Companies with t/o $20m or less -> 45% refundable tax credit -All others -> 40% nonrefundable tax credit + Eligibility of claimable activities much tighter Tax Reform After Henry

11 11 Difference between tax deduction and tax credit Income tax payable = (taxable income x tax rate) – tax offsets/credits Taxable income = assessable income- deductions Therefore tax offsets not affected by changes to tax rate ‘Refundable tax credit’ – can get a payment where not paying tax Tax Reform After Henry

12 ‘Tax reform’ but not a ‘Tax Review’ Tax expenditures can be reviewed/reformed by a process outside a tax review- Better? Maybe... A closer look at the process for reforming the R&D tax concessions T AX R EFORM A FTER H ENRY 12

13 13 Reform process for the R&D tax concessions -Independent review -> Cutler Report; Review of the National Innovation System- not just a tax review (tax incentives only 1 of 12 chapters) -Govt response – 9 months later -Consultation- after govt response, 1 st & 2 nd drafts but increasing rushed & less public; responses by interest groups only? -Bills & EM rushed; full of typos-> EM rereleased. -Senate Report 15 June; must be passed by 25 th June Started off looking good-> ultimately ???? Tax Reform After Henry

14 14 What questions that still need to be asked? Should the govt be subsidising R&D? Why not leave it to market forces? Will the new program distribute benefits fairly and be target efficient? Does the government have control over this spending and how will it be accountable for this spending? Are there more appropriate policy instruments? Tax Reform After Henry

15 Broad suggestions for reform of tax expenditures Subject tax expenditures to formal & ongoing evaluations Attach sunset clauses Cap amount of revenue forgone T AX R EFORM A FTER H ENRY 15

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