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New Survey Finds Surprising Support for Inheritance Taxes and Gambling Tax Reform

Results of a new survey released today should give fresh impetus to reform of state taxes according to the South Australian Council of Social Service. SACOSS commissioned independent pollsters, Mint Research, to survey 1,000 South Australians on their attitudes and understandings of state taxes, and on their views of a number of specific reform proposals. The results are contained in the SACOSS report, Unfinished Business: Two Years on from South Australia’s Tax Review released today.

The most popular of the reform ideas tested were for changes to gambling taxes with 53% supporting the proposal to make clubs pay the same rate of poker machine tax as hotels (currently clubs pay a 6.5-10% less), and 63% supporting a higher rate of taxes on high intensity poker machines (ie. machines that allow bets of more than $1 per spin).

There was also surprising support for the introduction of inheritance taxes as 42% supported the idea of a tax on estates over $2m (with a further 18% unsure). An additional 8% supported the inheritance tax if it meant that other state taxes would be reduced, bringing support to 50% and meaning that nearly twice as many supported that proposal as opposed it.

The survey also found that the state government may have closed the door too soon on replacing real estate stamp duties with an annual land tax. While there was public opposition when the government floated the idea in their 2015 State Tax Review, the survey showed that those for and against the proposal were about evenly split, but a greater number (42%) were undecided – effectively disenfranchised by the closure of the public debate. Further, one in four respondents said reducing stamp duty was the highest priority if any state tax was to be reduced. This was the highest response rate of any state tax, effectively making real estate stamp duty the most unpopular state tax.

SACOSS CEO, Ross Womersley said,

“Our state tax system needs reform to be fairer and to ensure that the government has the funds necessary to provide vital services. In this context, it was pleasing to see support in the community for tax reform – in fact, 91% of respondents agreed with at least one of the proposals in the survey.”

“We would urge the government to have another look at tax reform, and particularly our proposal to replace the existing poker machine tax concession for clubs with a concession that is tied to harm minimisation measures including the $1 bet limit. This would be economically fair, popular, and would help minimise community harm from gambling.”

“While there is a lot of encouraging data in the survey, we don’t underestimate the difficulty of tax reform. There are contradictions with 64% of respondents thinking that state taxes are too high, but 68% also wanting more spent on services. And there is limited knowledge in the community of some state taxes, and a persistent belief (54%) that South Australian state taxes are higher than other states – even though that is not true by almost all measures.”

“However the SA government’s welcome introduction of a new point-of-consumption online gambling tax last year shows that reform is possible, and reform is certainly going to be needed if we are not to see services cut in the future. Two years after the State Tax Review, we still believe that tax reform is unfinished business.”

Download the SACOSS report, Unfinished Business: Two Years on from South Australia’s Tax Review

Summary of Responses to Tax Reform Proposals

Attitude to Proposal





Dislike/ Oppose




Need More Info


Replace Conveyance Duties with Annual-Land Tax




Same gambling tax rate for clubs and hotels




Higher gambling tax for high intensity machines




Inheritance tax on estates over $2m




Inheritance tax to decrease an existing state tax




Higher land tax on disused commercial buildings




Car Park Tax to reduce vehicle registration fees




Note: Does not include the small percentage who answered “Don’t Care”.


Published Date: 
Tuesday, 11 April 2017