The debate in Australia about the federal government’s budget has too often focused on what spending will get cut to fund what tax cuts. Australia has also obsessed which Treasurer will deliver a budget surplus in which year. What has been lost in this simplistic debate is that tax is the price we pay for living in a civilised society. Rather than constantly debating how big the next income tax cut needs to be or how large the surplus should be, we need to have a discussion about revenue.
At a time when wages are stagnant and inequality is getting worse, the general public is increasingly interested in a debate on how much revenue needs to be collected and what kind of services the public expects from their Government. The public are keen for a debate about tax reform where tax reform doesn’t simply mean lower taxes.
This paper will look at what has happened to government revenue in the last 20 years, the state of government revenue today and how we can reform our tax system to make it more efficient and equitable.