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SACOSS proposes 3 tax reform options missing from SA government's tax review

The South Australian Council of Social Service (SACOSS) will use its submission to the state government tax review this week to put forward three ideas for reform that go beyond the options suggested in the government’s discussion paper.

SACOSS Executive Director, Ross Womersley said,
“When the state government announced its review of state taxes it said that everything should be on the table

"We think some things are missing from its paper and we want to put forward a few other ideas that would support a sustainable revenue base for the government, but not at the expense of vulnerable and disadvantaged people
“We also want to see the tax debate expanded so that we are not just fiddling with existing taxes, but rather genuinely building a sustainable tax base to pay for the vital services we all need”.
3 tax reforms SACOSS suggests are:

  • Changing tax concession arrangements for clubs to promote gambling harm prevention measures

The government has proposed to remove the concession rates for clubs. SACOSS proposes that clubs have the option of either paying the higher tax rate paid by pubs, or adopting long overdue harm prevention measures (such as mandatory pre-commitment and $1 bet spin limits).

Mr Womersley said,
“It would be the individual club’s choice, but frankly, if they are not prepared to adopt these harm prevention measures they don’t deserve the tax concession they currently enjoy as a community-based club.”

  • Cutting vehicle registration fees and offsetting revenue loss with a revamped car park tax

SACOSS’ transport proposals aim to make ownership of vehicles cheaper to ensure that people on low incomes have access to transport. This would be paid for by taxing one of the more damaging and least efficient uses of transport through a proxy “congestion tax”.
The easiest way to introduce such a tax would be with through a revamped “car park” tax.

“Unlike the government’s Transport Development Levy proposal which failed to get parliamentary support in 2014, this car park tax would not be a hypothecated levy (to pay for new initiatives) but simply a revenue neutral change to the transport tax base”, Mr Womersley said.

SACOSS estimates that under this arrangement, a car park tax levied at the level proposed last year could result in a $22 reduction in vehicle registrations.

  • Establishing a “disused building tax” to encourage development

SACOSS proposes a new tax or surcharge on disused buildings. This is driven by the fact that South Australia currently has too many people experiencing homelessness, and a housing affordability crisis.
There is housing property sitting empty, potential housing properties sitting undeveloped, and empty shops and commercial premises undermining the wealth and development of some areas.
“Our proposal is not detailed but it is clear that as a community we would be better served by having people in housing, and occupants and traders in commercial premises.  We are calling on the government, as part of its review, to look into the feasibility, impacts and desirability of such a tax”, Mr Womersley said.
SACOSS’ formal submission to the State Tax Review will be lodged on Friday 10 April. The submission will also comment on many of the proposals put forward by the state government in its Discussion Paper

Excerpts from SACOSS’ Submission to the State Tax Review detailing the three new proposals are available here. The full submission will be available on the SACOSS website on Friday.

Published Date: 
Thursday, 9 April 2015