Does Australia need an annual wealth tax? (And why do we now apply one only to pensioners)

Author name: 
Ingles D

This paper argues that given the current hybrid income-expenditure tax system in Australia (hybrid IT/ET) a wealth tax could make sense as a way of ironing out disparities in the tax treatment of different assets. A wealth tax could be designed to approximate a comprehensive income tax (CIT) outcome by combining a wage tax with imputed asset income (deeming), or it could fall more lightly. We already have a harsh wealth tax in the welfare system, the asset test; the issue arises as to why we would confine wealth taxation to the not-so-well-off. If we move the income tax to an ET of, e.g., a consumption tax (CT) type a wealth tax might still make good sense, although the implied rate may be lower than under the wage tax as the CT taxes some part of economic rents. However if we move towards explicit taxation of economic rents using, say, the rate of return allowance (RRA) or its cash-flow counterpart, the Z-tax, a wealth tax may be less needed, as such rents comprise two-thirds the total return on capital.

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