The tax return
My 2008-09 tax return took ages to come back. What happened to it? An old fashioned IT screwup:
We know some people have experienced delays and frustration caused by our essential systems upgrade. Unfortunately, the size of the systems we deal with means they are incredibly complex. Also, given the importance of the tax and superannuation systems to Australia, we need to ensure the reliability of our processes.
Apparently an investigation has been started, though on the bright side, other than wondering why it was taking so long, it didn’t cause me any heartache.
I had hopes there’d be some genuine, wide reform. Certainly Henry noted a lot of different options, some 138 recommendations in all.
With my PT hat on, the one I was watching most closely for was a rollback of the ridiculous fringe benefits tax on cars, which has a sliding scale which encourages people to drive further — and is costing taxpayers more than $2 billion per year. Henry recommended making it a flat 20% (compared to the current 7% to 26%). The government has been silent on this one though.
How about the idea of the optional tax return?
Tax returns would be made simple and effectively optional by giving everyone a automatic standard deduction for work expenses, freeing most employees from the need to prepare a return, ”instead allowing them to lodge a default return prepared by the tax office”.
Taxpayers who wanted to claim more ”would still have the option” of submitting receipts. Mr Swan said yesterday he was ”attracted to the idea” of making tax returns simpler and hinted he would announce changes soon.
— The Age
Being a lazybones, I love that. I hope they do it. (Though actually I’d want to claim my donations.)
But overall, the government’s response seemed like a fizzer. Only about 10 of the 138 recommendations will be implemented — and they’ve specifically ruled out 18.
Sure, a few changes are being made, and the miners aren’t happy obviously about their new tax. (Can’t remember where I saw it, but one wag wondered how the miners might move operations offshore if it involved digging stuff out of the ground.)
But in terms of really making a difference, really simplifying the tax system, it’s ardly the kind of revolutionary reform we might have expected.
Well at least, not yet. We’ll see what happens after the election.
You can tell how much spin is going on from the number of times the tired old cliche of “working families” gets mentioned.
The count from Rudd’s interview on AM on Monday morning: 5 in an 8 minute interview.