Australia urgently needs a national coronavirus taxation summit to help reform our outdated tax system and ensure the nation can better deal with the economic fallout of COVID-19.

The call comes from leading tax expert, Professor Robert Breunig from The Australian National University’s Tax and Transfer Policy Institute.

“We already know that we are facing a mountain of new debt because of the COVID-19 pandemic. And we are hoping for a quick and robust recovery,” Professor Breunig said.

“But Australia’s recovery through global trade will continue to be impeded by other countries’ response to the coronavirus.

“And our interest rates will continue to be low. So we need to think big when it comes to fiscal policy.

“Why not reform our outmoded and outdated tax system? Not only is it ill-equipped for the 21st century, but it is inefficient, complex and unfair; it doesn’t reflect contemporary Australia; and is not going to generate sufficient revenue in the short-term.”

According to Professor Breunig there are a range of challenges that need to be urgently addressed. This includes a reliance on income taxes to raise the bulk of revenue.

“Because incomes are taxed heavily, and savings lightly, it means young workers subsidise the old, who disproportionality own capital,” he said.

“It also means less revenue overall, as income tax is subject to numerous deductions and exemptions for people who derive income from certain assets.

“Clearly the system needs to change, and now presents a perfect opportunity. Given the current spirit of bipartisanship evidenced in the passing of pandemic legislation and the formation of a cross-party, state and federal unity government, there is a golden moment to seize.”

Professor Breunig said a national taxation summit could clearly and publicly map out the costs of not undertaking reform as well as suggest a realistic reform path.

“Our political leaders can take this crisis and move us together towards a fairer and better Australia,” Professor Breunig said.

“If we can effectively reposition the tax and transfer systems, we will be able to restart the economic engines in a more sustainable manner. One that better corresponds with our post-coronavirus ambitions as a country.

“The question now is; will our leaders take this once-in-a-generations chance while they have it?”

You may also like

Article Card Image

Why caring can counter quitting in a post-pandemic world

For managers keen to get the most out of their staff, it's time to let go of control and embrace care.

Article Card Image

What are the odds? From coin tosses to card shuffles

When it comes to the probability of coin tosses, card shuffles and even voting, your best bet is to trust maths rather than your gut.

Article Card Image

What are our waves worth? Surfing economics can help us work that out

Australia is a haven for surfers, but just how valuable is one of our favourite pastimes to the economy and our wellbeing?

Subscribe to ANU Reporter

Anu Logo

+61 2 6125 5111

The Australian National University, Canberra

CRICOS Provider: 00120C

ABN: 52 234 063 906

EDX Logo
APRU Logo
IARU Logo
Group of eight Australia Logo