Per Capita Tax Survey 2017

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June 2017

By Emma Dawson, with Warwick Smith

This is the seventh Per Capita Tax Survey, which has been conducted annually since 2010, with the exception of 2013.

The Survey provides a snapshot of the Australian public’s attitudes towards taxation and public expenditure, and a long-term view of trends in public sensibility towards our tax and transfer system.

As in previous surveys of recent years, the 2017 Survey finds a high level of public support for increased spending on public services, particularly in health and aged care, and education.

This desire reflects an ongoing decline in the perception of the value and utility of public services amongst respondents.

The public’s support for more government spending on services follows the abandonment of the “debt and deficit disaster” rhetoric by the federal government. This shift in debate is also the likely cause of a significant rise in the proportion of Australians who believe the government should borrow to invest in long-term infrastructure assets.

While a majority of Australians are willing to pay more tax themselves to support improvements in health and aged care, the overwhelming view of respondents is that high-income earners and big business are not paying enough tax. Fully two-thirds of Survey respondents want to see the Budget Repair Levy of 2% on high-income earners extended beyond its current cessation date of 30 June this year.

This strong sense that wealthy Australians are not paying their fair share of tax is reflected in the overwhelming support for the so-called “Buffet Rule”. Australians clearly want to see tax minimisation by high-income earners addressed by policy makers.

At the same time, almost nine-in-ten Australians believe that tax avoidance by large corporations is a significant factor in undermining the fairness of our tax system.

The Survey also finds that a significant majority of Australians now support the abolition or restriction of negative gearing, demonstrating that even the most politically difficult debates can be swayed by carefully crafted and articulated policy.

Other findings from this year’s Survey point to lukewarm support in the community for the replacements of stamp duty with a land tax, and a preference for increased superannuation contributions to support retirement incomes.

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