The South Australian Council of Social Service (SACOSS) welcomes today’s release of the SA government discussion paper on state taxes, but is concerned that the debate will be dominated by self-interest and big business.
SACOSS Senior Policy Officer Dr Greg Ogle said,
“It is good that the state government has made fairness and having an adequate revenue base to pay for vital services key objects of the review.
“Without that, any tax review just becomes a platform for vested interests to argue for cuts to their taxes at the expense of the community’s much needed services.
“There is no doubt that business groups and other vested interests will dominate the debate as they can afford to pay for advice, hire the lobbyists, and do the PR to promote their interests”.
The tax review is right to ensure that business taxes are as efficient as they can be – but the Paper is already too narrowly focused on business interests.
The state government needs to ensure that other voices are properly heard, and in particular that the interests of vulnerable and disadvantaged people are protected and promoted in any reform of the tax system.
Dr Ogle continued,
“If community voices are really heard we might get a broader debate and identify other options to replace inefficient or unfair taxes. These might be estate taxes, environmental taxes, or other levies – all of which should be part of the discussion".
SACOSS is open to consideration of many of the proposals put forward in the Discussion Paper, including those around stamp duty and land taxes.
We do not, however, want sensationalised debate and coverage on any one proposal (e.g. land tax) without addressing how the whole tax package fits together and impacts on the wider community.
SACOSS will be making a major submission on the tax discussion paper in April.