Tax reform in two days? Tell 'em they're dreaming

Now that the long-awaited discussion paper for the Government's tax forum has been released, shouldn't we expect more clarity around goals and more detail about the format?

While it is good to see that the forum will be broken down into sessions around key areas of the taxation system, tax reform is too important to be rushed over a two-day discussion.

At The Tax Institute, we have long called for a measured and structured approach to tax reform. We need a timeline for reform and a process for taking the debate forward beyond the October forum.

What’s missing in the Government’s discussion paper is detail about the format of the forum and the ultimate objectives of the whole exercise. How are 150 different people with at least 300 different points of view on varying aspects of the tax system going to produce a strategic tax reform roadmap for the future?

The discussion paper is a blueprint of some of the key issues already widely canvassed in the Henry Tax Review, which was billed as a ‘once in a generation opportunity for reform’.

The biggest fear for tax professionals is that once the two days of discussions are over, the only tangible output will be a warm glow and a communiqué calling for more discussion.

The Tax Institute is holding its own tax reform event in Sydney on 31 August called ‘The Great Tax Debate’ (www.taxinstitute.com.au/greattaxdebate).  While not in competition with the Government’s tax forum, the Great Tax Debate will provide a platform for real tax reform discussion and undertake some preparatory work that is crucial ahead of the October forum.

What do you think?

Robert Jeremenko 
Senior Tax Counsel

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