Show Australians some love on tax: Leigh

Colin Brinsden, AAP Economics Correspondent
(Australian Associated Press)

Tax is a pretty dry subject at any time but Andrew Leigh has used Valentine’s Day to bring some love to the issue.

The shadow assistant treasurer pounced on an ABC analysis revealing one-in-five of the country’s biggest companies paid no tax for at least the past three years, while Qantas hadn’t paid any in nearly a decade.

Dr Leigh said while this should cause “heartbreak” for the Turnbull government, it remained “infatuated” in giving $65 billion in tax cuts to business.

“The Turnbull government needs to fall in love with ordinary Australians rather than protecting large multinational corporations and millionaires,” he told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.

“Despite soaring corporate profits, and the fact that Australia’s company tax rate places us in the middle of the G20 pack, the only policy (the treasurer) has eyes for is a big business tax cut.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull hit back at the ABC analysis, describing it as one of the most “confused and poorly” researched articles he had seen on this topic.

“The ABC, that’s an enterprise that understands profit and loss. It understands taxes. They’re recipients of them – they receive them, taxpayers’ funds,” he told parliament.

The government wants to cut the corporate to 25 per cent for all business

But the legislation looks set to be blocked in the upper house, with One Nation and Nick Xenophon Team senators already indicating they will join Labor and the Greens in opposing the move.

The government argued the rate cut would make Australia competitive in a world where other economies were slashing their rates, which will boost investment, jobs and wages.

Prominent economist Saul Eslake believes Australia already operates in a lenient tax environment.

When compared to Canada , which has a similar economy to Australia, Mr Eslake told the ABC it cut its corporate tax rate from around 42 per cent in 2000 to about 26 per cent in 2011.

“However, in the past 15 years business investment has raised more in Australia than in Canada, it hasn’t done anything significant to boost wages,” he says.

But Chris Richardson, an economist at Deloitte Access Economics, believes the parliament is on the brink of leaving $20 billion a year of dividends “lying in the gutter” if the tax plan is rejected.

He told the Australian Financial Review two-thirds of the benefits from the tax cuts would show up as wages and one third as profits.

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Categories: Tax