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The great tax swindle: how concessions and exemptions benefit the wealthiest

Greg Jericho comments in The Guardian (27.3.18) on Australia’s complex and opaque system of tax concessions and exemptions, suggesting that more federal money is spent keeping the wealthiest households wealthy than on Newstart or the disability support pension.

‘A report by Anglicare has found that eight of the largest tax concessions and exemptions cost just over $135bn a year in revenue foregone, and all disproportionately benefit high income and high wealth households. Anglicare’s report, The Cost of Privilege, uses research undertaken by Per Capita to highlight that some $68.5bn worth of taxation concessions and exemption goes to the wealthiest 20% of Australian households – more than the $68.1bn annual cost of the disability support pension (DSP) and assistance to families and children.

‘Each year the treasury department releases a statement on the costs of various taxation exemptions and concessions. But the Anglicare report goes further by breaking down who benefits.

‘The report looked at superannuation tax concessions, negative gearing, capital gains tax concessions, the use of discretionary trusts, the exemption from the GST of private health insurance and education, and the exemption from capital gains tax of residence.

‘It found that $68,55bn each year goes to the wealthiest 20% of households, compared with $6.1bn that goes to the the poorest 20%.

‘… The biggest taxation exemption covered in the report, the capital gains tax exemption on the family home, is quite possibly the least likely policy ever to be changed. Despite the $74bn foregone in revenue each year, it would be an extremely brave political party to go to an election promising to tax the family home.’

The Game of Homes: how the vested interests lie about negative gearing

Cameron Murray writes in The Conversation (11.3.19) that when economic vested interests are attacked they create myths and battle plans. It’s the surest sign, the author suggests, that you’re on the right track.

‘When you want to take back a multibillion-dollar giveaway to the country’s wealthiest, expect them to put up a fight.

‘The Labor Party’s proposal to reduce the tax advantages of being a landlord by limiting negative gearing to new homes has become the new enemy of the landlord class, who are arming themselves for policy combat.

‘Luckily, the modern way we fight over resources requires no weapons, nor bloodshed, but it is nevertheless a strategic Game of Homes, with subplots, twists, surprises.

‘… As a rule, the more vested interests organise their strategic alliances and myth-making battle plans to stop your policy, the better it is. We saw it the mining super-profit tax, we saw it with gold tax (yes, until 1991 the profits made from mining gold used not to be taxed), we saw it with fringe benefits tax, we saw it with capital gains tax itself.’

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