Australia's company tax: options for fiscally sustainable reform, updated post Trump

Author name: 
Ingles, D
Stewart, M

The Australian Government proposes to reduce the company tax rate from 30 to 25 per cent. However, there are widespread concerns that the fiscal cost is not affordable. This paper considers alternative reforms of corporate taxation that could fund a corporate tax rate cut. We address key non-neutralities in the corporate tax system and consider key international developments, including the enactment of the Trump tax plan in the United States, which lowers the US corporate tax rate to 21%. We examine the case for abolition of dividend imputation in favour of a lower headline company tax rate and consider the spectrum of reform options for the corporate tax base, which ranges from the cash flow tax and allowance for corporate equity or capital to a comprehensive business income tax which would eliminate interest deductibility. These measures (which could co-exist in a hybrid system) might be accompanied by discounts on dividend and interest income at the personal level, in replacement of dividend imputation.

NOTE: This paper supersedes WP9/2017 on Australia’s company tax, and takes account of revised modelling by C Murphy incorporating the recent US company tax cuts and published as WP2/2018.

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