Most Australians support a more progressive income tax system as a tool towards a reducing wealth inequality, according to new research released today.

The ACTU will today release the new research alongside the first of a series of discussion papers designed to give working Australians a stronger voice in the debate about social and economic policy in the lead up to the Government’s tax forum in October.

ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence said the first of the Working Australia Tax Papers, Myths and Realities: the tax system and attitudes to taxation, presented the facts about Australia being a relatively low taxing nation, and pushed the case that the tax forum should not simply be an opportunity for the business lobby to seek lower corporate taxes.

“Reform should not imply an unending series of cuts to business tax and tax rates for high-income Australians,” Mr Lawrence said. “It should strengthen, not weaken governments’ ability to provide high-quality public services and social security that Australians want, need and deserve.

“The first of our papers has been prepared to lay out the facts about the Australian taxation system and set out the principles for tax reform, in anticipation of what is expected to be a single-minded business agenda to shift more of tax raising off themselves and onto working people.

“Unions will vigorously seek to counter this one-sided agenda at the tax forum in October.”

Mr Lawrence said the ACTU was today releasing the results a survey of 1000 Australians, which found that 60% favoured raising tax rates for high income earners.

“The research found almost 60% supported lowering taxes for people on incomes of $36,000 and $79,000, however the same proportion supported tax increases at the $200,000 level,” he said.

“The question therefore is: what sort of society do we aspire to be? What do Australians want from their tax system and from their governments?

“Real tax reform is reform that is directed towards satisfying Australians’ needs and preferences, and that positions Australia well for the future. Real reform ensures that the tax system treats people of similar means equally, without allowing some to exploit loopholes to avoid their obligations.

“It means a progressive tax system, to ensure that all Australians pay their fair share.

“Real reform will also ensure that the tax system is as simple and efficient as it can be, without sacrificing other aims in the name of simplicity or efficiency. We must not allow the tax debate to be hijacked by a business agenda, but to reflect the type of society the majority of Australians aspire to be.”

More information

ACTU Tax Paper 1: Myths and Realities
ACTU Tax Paper 2

ACTU Report: Inequality and Progressive Taxation
ACTU Tax Paper 3