Australians want more public services that will require more government revenue. This paper summarises Australia’s tax system, its international context, and principles to guide its reform.
Taxation is often framed as a burden. For decades political debate about tax reform has revolved around lowering taxes, with the resulting revenue shortfalls to be addressed through cuts to public spending. What is lost in this simplistic framing is the important role tax plays in society. Taxation facilitates provision of public services. It is a key policy lever to reduce inequality. It can encourage beneficial activities and discourage others that cause harm.
Tax is the price we pay for living in a civilised society. The question is what kind of society do we want and how can taxation help us achieve it? The pandemic has shown the importance of a well-resourced public sector, and with political leaders of all persuasions wanting to tackle expensive policy challenges such as aged care, the NDIS, childcare, cost-of-living, inequality, climate change and submarines – Australia, we need to talk about revenue!