Business fears small fry tax reform

Business is concerned the federal government’s promised wide-ranging tax reform package will be nothing more than tinkering at the edges.


Consultants BDO’s annual tax reform survey identified multinational profit-shifting as the number one priority issue, followed by GST reform and inefficient state taxes.

BDO national tax director Lance Cunningham says the survey attracted more than 500 respondents, double the number of respondents seen in 2015, and was a clear sign that the business community still sees tax reform as an urgent priority even if the government does not.

He said after getting so close to genuine tax reform through the tax white paper process, many businesses feel cheated by its abandonment.

“(Many) are fearful the federal budget will present only piecemeal measures and a vague commitment to look closer at tax reform after the next election,” Mr Cunningham said releasing the survey on Thursday.

He said the fact the survey still considered multinational profit-shifting as the top issue suggests that the government’s changes either are not going far enough or the government has not sufficiently educated the public about these extensive and complex changes.

Although the Turnbull government has shelved changes to the GST on the premise it would do little to lift economic growth, over 80 per cent of respondents believe reforming the impost is essential to any tax package.

Almost two-thirds of those surveyed said GST exemptions should be abolished.

“Reform of GST to allow the removal of inefficient state taxes have been identified as much more pressing than company tax rate cuts,” Mr Cunningham said.

Treasurer Scott Morrison will hand down the tax package with his first budget on May 3.