PM denies white paper “on hold”

The Prime Minister has denied suspending work on the tax white paper.

PM denies white paper “on hold”

Conflicting reports yesterday that Malcolm Turnbull had suspended work on the Government's tax white paper have been quashed, with the Prime Minister himself taking to Twitter to put an end to the rumours.

Fairfax Media yesterday reported that Malcolm Turnbull, in one of his first acts as Prime Minister, had secretly suspended all work on the previous government’s tax white paper. The report claimed that Australia’s biggest ever review on taxation was “dead in the water”, mere weeks before the preliminary report was due.

Fairfax also went as far as saying that Federal Treasury bureaucrats were “stunned” and, according to one senior executive, “We were told to put everything on ice, and that a ‘reset’ on tax reform was taking place.”

In answer to the so-called suspension of the white paper, Mr Turnbull took to social media to debunk the media myth.

“We have not stopped work on the tax white paper – quite the contrary, as I said earlier in the week tax reform is at the centre of our efforts to make Australia a more innovative, productive and prosperous economy,” the PM tweeted.

In his first major press conference as Federal Treasurer, Scott Morrison, along with Finance Minister Matthias Cormann, also confirmed that the Government’s tax white paper process remained “on track”.

“It is proceeding as we intended it to proceed, and the timetables around those issues have always been, I think, very broad and not fixed,” said Mr Morrison.

Mr Morrison also expressed his desire for “lower, fairer, simpler taxes” and declared the Government’s focus for tax reform will be to reduce spending rather than raising taxes.

But, after yesterday’s talk of the tax white paper suspension, when quizzed about its timeline, Mr Morrison would not provide any clear indication of when it will be released.

“It will be released when we are in a position to release it,” he told the media.

Read more at The Sydney Morning Herald
Read more at The Guardian

Opinion: Why not wait and get it right?

With all the confusion yesterday surrounding the fate of the tax white paper, one important point seemed to be glossed over: why not just wait and get it right?

When I first read about Mr Turnbull’s suspension of the white paper, I thought it was a good move. It was clear to many Australians that Mr Hockey and Mr Abbott’s attitude towards tax reform was none too popular. The best way for a new PM to handle that situation would be to reset the process and restart from the ground up.

Tax reform is no small task. With Australian companies investing hundreds of millions on tax and legal advice to create the multitude of submissions to the white paper, surely, they too would see the benefit in getting it right the first time.

With the allegations of the white paper’s suspension proving false, the Government now has to make some decisions on tax reform, putting increased pressure on a successful outcome. But what can Mr Turnbull do in such a short time to make this happen?

It is believed that he would like to reduce personal income tax. He has also stated that, in order to make it more efficient, he would like to remove the plethora of exemptions and concessions that make the system so complicated.

An obvious candidate for immediate returns is to cut the generous super tax concessions that the former Government was so loathe to do. After all, more Australians would be better off with that money being put back into the system, rather than into the accounts of the already wealthy. An action such as this would also show that the new Prime Minister is willing to tackle the high-end earners in order to assist those who need it most.

But will he do it? That remains to be seen. It would certainly go a long way in separating him from the ‘blinkered’ attitudes towards taxation held by the previous leader. It would also show many Australians that he has their best interests in mind, and not just those of big business and the wealthy.

What do you think? Should Mr Turnbull hold off on making any hasty decisions regarding tax reform? Would it bother you that the tax white paper could go on hold so that more intelligent, well-thought through decisions are made concerning the tax system? Do you think Mr Turnbull should remove the embargo on amending super tax concessions?





    COMMENTS

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    24th Sep 2015
    10:03am
    I've long advocated a complete overhaul of taxation/excises, and a reduction in the strands of taxation revenue to government down to a small and easily handled set of tax approaches that treat all fairly.

    We've discussed the tax havens open to super funds etc, and the vast difference between that treatment and that of government pensions/pensioners. Simple solution - no concessions for super hoarding since it is savings, pay everyone the pension as earned - then tax extra income the same for all individuals.

    Company tax on a sliding scale the same as individual may be a concept that needs looking into - bearing in mind that is on net profit = real income, and that company fees and such take into account the reality that (gasps) many companies are 'creative' with the truth in determining their net income. Same with trusts. Put simply - nobody would use a company or a trust unless it was profitable to do so.

    Offshore companies need to ante up more than royalties to the states, for the simple reason that they offshore profit, reduce their tax liability here, and then pay next to no tax in havens. We all know that by now.

    Negative gearing needs an overhaul, as do some other tax groups.
    MICK
    24th Sep 2015
    10:08am
    A good start. What I fear is going to happen is that a continuation of hitting the easiest target is going to continue: low income earners. Governments need to ask all players to pay a fair percentage of their earnings in tax. No BS outs!
    Old Silver Fox
    24th Sep 2015
    3:13pm
    I'd agree to all players to pay a fair percentage of their earnings in tax Mick IF the muppets in government only spent a fair percentage...not like they currently do..waste heaps then leave politics and get their bloated pensions with all the perks thrown in.
    Sceptic
    24th Sep 2015
    4:02pm
    Leon, isn't your statement " Would it bother you that the tax white paper could go on hold so that more intelligent, well-thought through decisions are made concerning the tax system?" a touch of the "Have you stopped beating your wife?" type of question? Surely it would be prudent to wait until the report is out before such a pre-judged comment is made?
    MICK
    24th Sep 2015
    10:04am
    It will be interesting to see if Turnbull is pushing the same agenda as his predecessor.
    Many are hoping that Turnbull and his government will not be coming after average Australians with the raft of new taxes to fund tax cuts for the top end of town as Abbott and Hockey did. This will determine whether or not we are going to get a fair government or if we simply have a new face to the same beast. If the calls to halve corporate tax rates from the business lobby after Turnbull deposed Abbott are anything to go by it appears that the game will be the same. We'll see.
    Anonymous
    24th Sep 2015
    10:54am
    GST rise is off the table, Malcolm. I've been arguing elsewhere that there is zero argument for a person such as my good self to accept a higher GST, which will substitute for income tax to some degree, when I pay no income tax now. In other words, GST impacts proportionately greater on those with less, and is a direct impost of income tax on the non-income taxpayer where no such liability for income tax existed before.

    Sorry, Mal - no GST discussion, unless it is the abolition of this crazy tax.
    Jen
    24th Sep 2015
    10:56am
    Scott Morrison already has form and we all know what that is.
    Old Silver Fox
    24th Sep 2015
    3:18pm
    We are ALL going to get reamed over the ncrease in GST...it will happen, unfortunately, there are too many bleeding heart socialists out there who are pushing for GST to increase to 15%. I agree with your sentiments TREBOR...the poor are going to feel it hardest.
    MICK
    24th Sep 2015
    3:32pm
    Jen: Saw Morrison on the 7:30 Report the other night. Felt sorry for thepresenter (Leigh Sales) as Morrison refused to address Sales' statistics showing that since this government has come to power everything has gotten worse: unemployment, the deficit, etc. You are right.....he already has form.
    Anonymous
    24th Sep 2015
    5:28pm
    I have yet to find time to analyse in detail, but Morrison's office sent me a reply to a letter about pension changes offering a mathematical summary that was supposed to justify the recent unfair changes. There were very obvious glaring errors. Mr Morrison apparently supposes that retirees are earning 5% per annum interest on average, and he claims that if those with assets of over $825000 (homeowning couple) draw on their capital to make up for their loss of pension and benefits, they will have an income of $58,000 per year with continued asset growth. Given that said couple might have $50,000 or more in non-returning assets (furniture, car, personal possessions, etc.), let's assume a disenfranchised retiree has $750,000 invested at 5% p.a. (Many will be getting as little as 2.5%, in fact!). Income will total $37500 pa. To achieve an income of $58,000 per year, the couple would need to draw $20500. That hardly results in an increase in assets. Mr Morrison's office completely ignored my challenge to explain how it benefited the nation to offer a retiree approx $178,000 in pension benefits over 10 years for spending $100,000 of their own money.

    Morrison has form, but no answers. Like Abbott, his only solution to inadequate tax revenue is to take more from the working class and lower middle class, screw over the hard workers and responsible savers, reject appeals to help the genuinely needy, but keep over-indulging the rich. At this stage, it appears Turnbull is solidly on the same page. Intelligent seniors will send a strong message that they are fed up with retirees being blamed and targeted, and fed up with the privileged being over-indulged. We need genuine reform that focuses on fairness and providing incentives and rewards for effort.

    BTW> Did anyone notice that the so-called ''fairer'' pension system changes did not impact adversely on government workers who enjoyed generous superannuation schemes and have, in many cases, dual pensions and healthy super account balances? It struck out, instead, at the battlers who struggled to save from private funds and enjoyed none of the generous perks of those who now continue to enjoy a much more generous means test. It hit hard on people who suffered crippling injury and received compensation payments that SHOULD be assisting them with medical and care costs, but now must be used for daily living expenses since their pension entitlements have ceased.
    MICK
    24th Sep 2015
    8:53pm
    Good post Rainey. Those who are feeling the pain amongst us need to read your post. You correctly identify the targets of this government and the benefactors.
    We all need to watch out for the White Paper to see if the money is still going to flow to the well off. My bet is that Turnbull will shuffle the cards, talk the talk, and then rehash the same corrupt game.
    mIKER
    24th Sep 2015
    10:39am
    Malcolm Turnbull clearly understood that the Abbott regime had eviscerated any reform of tax legislation by removing key items like superannuation and negative gearing from consideration. Hopfully Turnbull makes a new start with everything on the table. Sadly his new Treasurer (ScoMo) told the 7.30 Report last night that he will be focusing only on savings, not revenue. This narrow focus is the reason why many disliked the Abbott Government and is not a good look for future fair and reasonable tax reform.
    Anonymous
    24th Sep 2015
    10:55am
    Another 'treasurer' who has no idea.....
    Sundays
    24th Sep 2015
    12:41pm
    Yes I agree. Totally unimpressed with Scott Morrison on 7.30 Report. Does he not understand that talking over the top of Leigh Sales and not answering her questions is exactly what Tony Abbott did. I'm afraid that there will be more tightening of Welfare payments, but little done to close tax loopholes etc for the wealthy. Of course we need to increase revenue, but not by spending less on services and those who cannot work.
    Anonymous
    24th Sep 2015
    3:08pm
    Leigh Sales is what Labour/ABC is all about why would you want to answer her biased leftie questions.
    Old Silver Fox
    24th Sep 2015
    3:21pm
    If Morrison is going to focus on savings then the ones to get hit will be the poor, disenfranchised and downtrodden.
    Adrianus
    24th Sep 2015
    3:35pm
    If we all focussed on spending including the Treasurer, guess what the outcome would be? We have approximately 23m people focussed on spending, and another 12,000 on their way. I kind of like the idea that a Treasurer is smart enough to know which end to grab the snake.
    Anonymous
    24th Sep 2015
    5:39pm
    Actually, Frank, if the nation focused on WISE spending, we would drive major tax revenue gains and increased employment - which is precisely what we need. The biggest booms Australia ever had followed periods of high spending and high national debt along with increased spending on welfare.

    By focusing on cutting spending, we are slashing the capacity of the nation to build wealth. The recent pension cuts are a prime example of damaging cuts that will result on longer term increases in costs of supporting the aged because they reward people richly for reducing their savings and investments and offer a major disincentive to building wealth to meet the costs of old age and/or to pass on to future generations. Morrison achieved short term gain for long term pain.

    Economics on a national scale is far more complex than household budgeting, yet some try to apply the same principles, with devastating consequences.

    I'd like to see some savings in areas where spending is genuinely wasteful - but this Government is focused on destructive cuts and on overindulging the privileged at the expense of the real ''lifters'' who underpin economic growth. The Treasurer is anything but smart!
    Adrianus
    24th Sep 2015
    6:44pm
    Rainey, everyone is doing the lifting at the moment and that is the way it should be. Our debt has never been this big so according to Raineynomics we should be running hot with interest rates climbing through the clouds.
    MICK
    24th Sep 2015
    9:03pm
    Again I agree with much of your post Rainey. Third world countries build wealth (for some) on the back of poverty for many of their own. China and INdia are prime examples of how this works.
    This government has been and continues to pursue the above model. The rich tried it on with Workchoices. Knocked on the head! They more recently have tried it on with 457 visas. That hole is now closing. The latest rort is the China Free Trade Agreement where China will be allowed to bring in its own labour to undercut Australian wages and conditions. Still in play.
    Frank's comments always leave me shaking my head. What he fails to mention is that the current government has added $18 billion to the debt in 2 years and refuses to collect countless billions from both multinationals and rich Australians rorting the superannuation tax shelter. Oh yes..."earn and learn", "work and save", "lifters and leaners" and all the rest of the meaningless BS we have to listen to.
    Anonymous
    24th Sep 2015
    11:43pm
    mick - I've long stated that the New Mandarin class in China exploit every resource of the nation to their own self-enrichment - in the order of billions. That includes 'law', police, even the Army when it comes down to it. Our politicians see this and turn green with envy and then set about altering things to create the same opportunities for themselves.

    If the Chinese warlords can make billions off the backs of their people - why can't they?

    Many Indian billionaires got their family money start from sex slaver, human organ trafficking, and other kinds of abuse of their own people - for whom they care not one jot. India has massive illiteracy, 70% of homes without a flush toilet etc - and any 'aid' offered in advancing education etc, will only go to further boost the middle and upper classes - not those it is intended to help.

    If the poorest in India wait for trickle down to reach them, those that have not died of thirst waiting will be drinking the sacred waters of the Ganges.
    particolor
    25th Sep 2015
    5:42pm
    YOW ! Would be like Drinking Your Bath Water after washing the Muddy Dog and Cat too, after You got out !! :-) :-)
    Tom Tank
    24th Sep 2015
    10:46am
    One can only hope that a fair and equitable reform of the tax system is put in place.
    A good starting point would be to set up the tax system so that the intent of the tax legislation takes precedence over the interpretation of the exact wording of each clause which then ends up being fought over in court. Sir Garfield Barwick set a precedence with this that has led to the tremendous complexity of tax laws in trying to close loopholes which are found and then exploited by tax lawyers to the seriously wealthy.
    This has cost Australia huge sums in legal actions as well as lost revenue. This would be the best way to close the loopholes.
    The burning question is of course will the LNP take such action which would work against their financial backers.
    retroy
    24th Sep 2015
    10:57am
    I could agree with some of your suggestions but taxing your life savings that you put into super is a step too far. When I put away some of my salary into super it was with the belief that it was there for my retirement, so I think grandfathering of the situation for people already retired would be more appropriate. Your new system then has merit when people know what the ground rules are and they can plan accordingly.
    Old Silver Fox
    24th Sep 2015
    3:28pm
    Then you'll be looked on as one of the "rich" retroy by the sub class that, due to an accident of birth, aren't in your club, but are paying for the excesses of our political masters
    MICK
    24th Sep 2015
    9:14pm
    A tough one retroy. Damned if you do and damned if you don't.
    A bit of fairness and common sense need to be applied:

    1. there should be NO TAX DEDUCTION for money contributed into superannuation whilst those with very large balances and annual returns need to pay a small amount of tax. Only fair to current taxpayers.

    2. there needs to be a cap on how much can be squirrelled into superannuation.

    3. superannuation earnings need to be taxed in the same manner as normal earnings, on a sliding scale. No outs!

    Ultimately the super system should be a genuine savings facility with the strictest of early withdrawal options. It should not be a tax avoidance scheme for the rich. It should not be a prize for governments to eye off and try to control. It should be fair and not tilted towards the big end of town. If only life were that simple.....
    Anonymous
    25th Sep 2015
    5:46pm
    There should be a cap on how much you can have in superannuation. Say, 1.5 million. Increase the amount as required .
    There should not be balances of 5 million plus.
    maelcolium
    24th Sep 2015
    11:12am
    The prime purposes of Federal Taxation is to act as a drain of currency from the domestic monetary system, to support the perceived value of the fiat currency and to act as a signal to economic sectors of the economy. Federally, it acts as an economic stabiliser. It is not revenue in that unlike state or local government taxes it doesn't pay for anything despite politicians and so called economic commentators telling us otherwise.
    Society expects the burden of taxation to fall on those who are able to pay and on those who should pay. For citizen's the important aspect is fairness in the application of taxation. When it is seen as unfair, by allowing high value superannuation tax breaks, or by allowing property speculation with negative social consequences etc. society rails against this and governments should heed that noise.
    However, with the economy on it's knees, any further lowering of demand will worsen economic performance so Turnbull is wise to move reform to the backburner. Better to defer and get it right when the economy is humming.
    Sadly, Morrison's comments reflect that he has no idea of the role of taxation in the modern economy. Using words like "sustainable" or "taxation as a percentage of GDP" are meaningless and just feed to neoliberal myth that taxation funds spending. His idea of "reform" is to balance the mythical budget and when politicians talk in that manner we need to be concerned. IMO Turnbull has a better idea than Morrison.
    Adrianus
    24th Sep 2015
    11:24am
    I wonder if part of the reform includes a review of the outrageous 9.15% GIC on late payments to the ATO?
    Any review and reduction in taxes will only be increased with a changing high spending incoming government, so what's the point?
    fearlessfly
    24th Sep 2015
    12:52pm
    SO, who believes a word of what the populist media puts out there (Newspapers, Internet, TV) ? I may read it, but it's like modern day companies - I do not believe a word of what is published.
    MICK
    24th Sep 2015
    3:35pm
    You are so on the money. When I was young and stupid (disinterested!) I thought that the media would print the truth. Now that I am old(er) and hopefully have spent enough time examining the facts I can see that what we read is mostly highly massaged and controlled and much is simply not true. The other side to that coin is that the media often will present unpalatable facts to the electorate. Why?
    Young
    24th Sep 2015
    2:37pm
    Leigh Sales is the rudest person on the ABC.She often butts in on the person she is interviewing.She was put back in her box by Scott Morrison .He kept talking whenever she tried to butt in.The only time I have seen her being pleasant to anyone was when she interviewed Malcolm Turnbull for the first time.She even apologised to him when she butted in.
    Anonymous
    24th Sep 2015
    3:26pm
    Yes, she certainly thinks she's "it and a bit".
    MICK
    24th Sep 2015
    3:42pm
    Quite unfair.
    Sales tries to PIN some pretty slimy pollies who try to wriggle and twist their way out of answering the question she asks. Given that these lying pollies REFUSE to answer pertinent questions I think that Sales is quite benign.
    I saw the interview with Morrison a few nights ago. Sales read out the statistics and it was Morrison who was rude. He continually talked nonsense and when Sales tried to bring him back to the question he simply continued on with his spiel. He never did respond to the damning statistics (after 2 years in government). I wonder why?
    ANybody who saw Sales interview Abbott just before he was ousted would have to recognise the value of her interviews. Abbott could not answer ANY of Sales' questions and rolled out all of the pre-election slogans....."stopped the boats", "repealed the bad Carbon Tax", "got rid of the Mining Tax", etc. It was embarrassing and a total eye opener for even the staunchest of Abbott cronies. So who ever voted for this disaster?
    Adrianus
    24th Sep 2015
    3:46pm
    Browny, I think she just looks rude because she is doing the bidding of the far left ABC. I would like to see her in a role at Sky News where she would be allowed to display her questioning skills with aplomb and grace.
    bebby
    24th Sep 2015
    5:40pm
    To Browny and Frank', any excuse to target the ABC. Scott Morrison was rude and disrespectful in the way he kept overriding Leigh Sales. Once again a plug for Mr Murdoch's Sky.
    MICK
    24th Sep 2015
    8:42pm
    bebby: About the level of intelligence you expect from Frank. At least no mention of unions and Labor this time. Funny how this government sends it trolls out to claim the ABC is biased when its reported delve into the truth and ask the hard questions.
    Yes, it was Morrison who was rude as he came onto the program but walked over the presenter whilst refusing to answer the questions asked. Sign of a thug.
    Paulodapotter
    25th Sep 2015
    12:07am
    Crikey Frank, you're not still beating the anti ABC drum, are you? Now that they love MT, are you still going to persist with that BS?
    Adrianus
    25th Sep 2015
    7:31am
    I must say they have bowed to pressure somewhat and mellowed with the upcoming change at the top. Maybe someone with a more patriotic view will respond to the ad this time?
    Anonymous
    25th Sep 2015
    5:47pm
    If Scott Morrison can talk over Leigh Sales..good on him. She does it all the time to others.
    floss
    24th Sep 2015
    3:03pm
    This government is there for the big end of town and if you expect any change it will have to come at the next election.
    MICK
    24th Sep 2015
    3:43pm
    Pretty right. I hope that voters, who are not too bright at the best of times, do not get conned again.
    Adrianus
    24th Sep 2015
    4:09pm
    As they did in 2007?
    MICK
    24th Sep 2015
    8:44pm
    I was more thinking the last election where a lying Tony Abbott made all the guilt edged promises which expired the day after the election.
    Adrianus
    25th Sep 2015
    5:17pm
    Oh yes, no cuts to the ABC.
    particolor
    25th Sep 2015
    5:38pm
    Yep !! "There will be No Cuts to ABC Funding !" :-( :-( :-(
    Adrianus
    25th Sep 2015
    6:37pm
    Oh yes, the world can go into recession with millions starving in war ravaged countries but cut the ABC funding and you will soon find what revenge means. :(

    24th Sep 2015
    4:36pm
    labor mick never spoke truer words when he told us while growing up he was young and stupid, don't worry labor mick, you are still the same, nothing has changed only that you are now old, your believes in the abc says enough and as for voters being not too bright by voting for the liberals, sorry those voters saw through your labor party and knew they could not afford another disaster in australia.
    bebby
    24th Sep 2015
    5:45pm
    Heemskerk99, have you forgotten about your party's PM of choice Mr Abbott already?
    MICK
    24th Sep 2015
    8:46pm
    I knew there would be at least one idiot who was going to take that bait. You're it mate! Total moron as your Fuhrer made many promises which he assured voters he would keep. The rest is history....as is the liar who made them.
    Strummer
    24th Sep 2015
    9:00pm
    Abbott's gone and hopefully never to return. Even his own party have accepted they made a mistake. Let's move on.
    particolor
    25th Sep 2015
    5:47pm
    Ay Mick !! I just hear on the Radio that the World is packed with Idiots ! :-) So Prepare Yourself for the Next Einstein !! :-) :-)
    Adrianus
    30th Sep 2015
    9:49am
    heemsy, I often wondered what the looney lefties like mick would talk about when Abbott was deposed. Well now we know, it's still Abbott! Such is the Tony Abbott legacy that Shorten and his crew of misfits will speak of him way into the future.
    particolor
    24th Sep 2015
    5:52pm
    I wont tell You what He can do with His White Paper !! :-)
    MICK
    24th Sep 2015
    8:46pm
    Sorbent?
    Strummer
    24th Sep 2015
    8:51pm
    PMMT will hasten slowly until he gains the confidence of the remaining dinosaurs on the Liberal party. Be patient.
    Paulodapotter
    25th Sep 2015
    12:08am
    One can only hope.
    Pass the Ductape
    25th Sep 2015
    8:08am
    You state - Why not just wait and get it right?

    Winston Churchill is credited with the saying - "Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell and to have them look forward to the trip.'

    I suspect it's a similar situation with the tax reform white paper. Turnbull obviously thinks, that as yet, we're not convinced enough to enjoy the trip.
    LiveItUp
    25th Sep 2015
    2:24pm
    It's good to see Scott Morrison now has his eye on the homes of pensioners and their use in funding one's retirement.

    http://www.startsatsixty.com.au/living/scott-morrison-has-a-message-for-0ver-60s-and-you-might-not-like-it
    Adrianus
    25th Sep 2015
    2:57pm
    Yes Bonny. The alarm bells should be ringing for those who are rorting the system.
    LiveItUp
    25th Sep 2015
    3:55pm
    The alarm bells shouldn't be a problem to me.
    particolor
    25th Sep 2015
    5:18pm
    It Wont Worry the Top End !! But "We'll all be Ruined !" :-(
    LiveItUp
    25th Sep 2015
    6:15pm
    It's a good move in my opinion.
    Adrianus
    25th Sep 2015
    6:32pm
    I agree Bonny! Why should we pay welfare to people who don't really need it. Why should a Millionaire receive welfare while a single person lives on the street? Many of those people have recently arrived here so let's not have the argument about paying taxes all our lives.


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