Speech - looking forward 100 years: where to for income tax?

6 May 2015

Last week Rob Heferen, Deputy Secretary of Revenue Group in Treasury gave an address to the Tax and Transfer Policy Institute titled looking forward 100 years: where to for income tax? Here is an excerpt:


George Santayana made the observation: “Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.”

In saying that, Santayana hit on something we would do well to remember when thinking about the trajectory of tax policy.

At the end of the 19th century the Australian colonies had distinct tax systems, which were almost entirely reliant on customs and excise duties. The design of these tax systems was largely driven by administrative convenience, rather than a sense of equity or efficiency.

These, especially equity, as we all know, are a far more prominent feature of Australia’s tax system today.

In 1901 the new federation removed all duties on goods traded between Australian states.

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