Speech - tax reform and the economic backdrop

1 May 2015

Rob Heferen, Deputy Secretary of Revenue Group in Treasury recently gave a speech at the Minerals Council of Australia Biennial Tax Conference on tax reform and the economic backdrop. Here is an excerpt:

Tax reform: what is happening?

The Government has announced that a tax white paper will look for ways to make taxes lower, fairer and simpler. These are not new goals. Numerous tax reform processes since the Asprey Review in 1975 have had similar aspirations.1This review has the whole tax system within its scope and will provide detailed reform proposals.To improve the prospect of identifying proposals which are acceptable to a large proportion of the community, the Government needs a clear understanding of community views about tax. This understanding will be deepened through the release of a discussion paper.The discussion paper will aim to stimulate a national conversation about tax reform by identifying issues associated with the existing tax system, potential reform opportunities and associated trade-offs.

Successful consultations necessarily involve a period of ambiguity as various reform options are considered. This allows the analysis of reform proposals in a thoughtful manner. Such a process is more likely to deliver feasible reform proposals than the approach of quickly ruling changes in or out.

As the Treasurer has made clear, the discussion paper will be followed by a green paper outlining reform options and then a white paper setting out the Government’s reform package.

With this process in mind, today I will consider why the current economic backdrop means that tax reform is desirable. I will also reflect on company tax both in Australia and overseas.

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