Tuesday, 6 December 2011

A two-speed tax system? Let's keep equity and stimulus front and centre in the discussion on business taxation reform

There is a working group looking at a radical new way of taxing business in Australia. I am sure this proposal has a great capacity to stir up all sorts of ignorant, arrogant, self-centred political debate and special pleading.

I, for one, am very interested in listening to the argument for introducing such a tax.  I am particularly interested in hearing arguments based on equity and stimulus of, in particular, two segments of the economy which are languishing - namely, small business and manufacturing.

I'm with the sentiments of Kevin Rudd when he said he didn't want to be "Prime Minister of a country that doesn't make things anymore".  Small business covers a great variety of categories yet quite often manufacturing across the country is in the realm of small business.  Small business is defined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics as those businesses with less than 20 employees. Sometimes it is defined as businesses with 100 employees or less. Under the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997, the definition of a "small business entity" can be found here.

In terms of the global economic situation, business taxation should be looked at in the light of stimulus of business activity and investment and the ability of business to take on a fair share of national employment responsibility and goals.  The arguments in favour of equity for smaller business against giant wealthy corporations are many.  They include:
  • Managing a two-speed economy
  • Managing equity in the employment sector: the resources sector is draining some parts of the job market; skills development in the Australian labour market needs to be diverse and widespread; safeguarding against distortions in the price for labor in the marketplace
  • Managing equity across rural and regional Australia so that we don't continue to hollow out the demographic spread across the continent
  • Encouraging the ability to innovate particularly in small business start-ups.
I hope the working party can continue to keep the Australian public informed.  

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