Alan Jones

It's hard to believe that in a financially literate society, which we increasingly are, the best we ever seem to be able to talk about on the tax front is tax cuts. And yet again talk about it all this week. The Prime Minister hinting about more tax cuts in the May budget. Do politicians not listen to the electorate, or understand it. It's not tax cuts the public want, but overwhelming tax change. There are more than 10,000 pages to a Tax Act that's unreadable. There are regulations on regulations. Veritable fortunes are spent defining net taxable income before the Tax Office decides how much is to be taxed. The legal challenges to the tax system cost everybody the earth. The GST was meant to be a reform. It's a shambles. A recent survey of New South Wales small business found an average of 25 per cent of the principal's time was spent on tax compliance issues. The GST has created an accounting nightmare, nearly doubling if not quadrupling the tax work for the accounting profession. Then it's hurt a large bulk of the population, the elderly, by reducing the spending power of their savings. You've got tens of thousands of Australians signing up for laptop-operated foreign bank accounts...The battler in Struggle Street, the wage and salary earner who can't afford accountants and lawyers and is hunted down if he misses one tax beat, he pays/they pay, the battlers, 104 billion a year in tax. That's personal tax. Company tax...think for a moment of all those companies that come to mind .... they pay 41 billion in tax. It's not just that the Tax Act is unreadable. The whole system is incomprehensible. In January the former High Court Chief Justice Sir Harry Gibbs said that laws relating to income tax were a disgrace and getting worse. He said "The legislation is absurdly voluminous compared to our own earlier legislation and with other tax systems ... and the volume increases rapidly from year to year." He went on "Much of it's obscure to the point of being gives the ATO unacceptably wide discretionary powers ... many practising accountants no longer try to unravel the mysteries of the legislation by reading its provisions. Rather they rely on various documents and rulings of the ATO." Well how on earth in this climate, that's a former Chief Justice of the High Court of on earth can you be talking about tax cuts. The whole system has to be changed. There's tax on income, tax on savings, tax on profit. We should tax none of them. But then there's payroll tax, stamp duty, land tax, gambling tax, vehicle tax, vendor tax, superannuation tax, petroleum tax, excises which are also tax, and then a GST. And individuals pay 80 times as much tax as foreigners. Foreigners own 90 per cent of our industry. We pay bureaucrats big money. What alternative tax models are they putting to the Government? 16 March 2005 2UE

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