Research

The TTPI’s mission is to undertake and promote excellent independent research and policy analysis relevant to the tax and transfer system in Australia and internationally. The TTPI takes a broad and multi-disciplinary approach to research and aims to build a strong empirical base in public finance over time. While tax and transfer (welfare) issues are constantly debated in public discourse, the program aims to have a balance of projects with short-term and longer-term time horizons and both academic and policy-orientated outputs.

Research is published in our Working Paper series, in short articles on the Austaxpolicy blog and in scholarly refereed journals and books in Australia and internationally.

The TTPI research agenda has four broad work streams with various projects:

  • Taxation of capital and business
  • Tax, transfers and lifetime wellbeing
  • Tax system behaviour, compliance and administration
  • Budgets and fiscal federalism

Cross-cutting themes in all our research projects are

  • Taxes for economic prosperity (efficiency and national wellbeing)
  • Fairness (justice) and redistribution in the tax and transfer system
  • Resilience (administration, simplicity, sustainability in the real world)

Taxation of capital and business in a global era

The future of the corporate tax

This project explores the theory and different tax policy approaches to corporate tax in Australia and in a broader theoretical context from first principles, applied in the current context.

Corporate tax base erosion and profit shifting by multinationals

In 2013, the Group of 20 nations endorsed an OECD project to address multinational corporate tax planning, called base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) and produced recommendations for governments in 2015. This project examines various aspects of the OECD-BEPS project, for Australia and internationally. Aspects include the new anti-abuse rules and the increasing focus on economic substance in tax laws for corporations; examining the effectiveness of Australia’s transfer pricing laws and administration for multinational profit shifting; and seeking to understand and quantify the tax payable (or not) of multinational enterprises and whether any BEPS policies enacted by the Government will be effective to change multinational behaviour.

Transnational tax law

This project explores the development and future of transnational tax law in an era of increasing international tax co-operation and administration. Yet at the same time governments are experiencing more than ever the reality of tax competition in a global era. How is transnational tax law authorised, enacted and its legitimacy established?

Entrepreneurship and tax in market and sharing economies

This project examines from a conceptual and policy perspective the taxation of entrepreneurship and small business. It asks the fundamental question: what is entrepreneurship, and why might it be worth supporting? It considers recent reform proposals in context of current tax rules affecting entrepreneurs, past and comparative tax policy and outcomes. Separately, the project explores new developments in the sharing economy as it interacts with tax and transfer systems, including digital developments such as cryptocurrencies.

Tax, transfers and lifetime wellbeing

The retirement system, tax and transfers: superannuation tax concessions and the age pension

This project examines the tax and transfer treatment of private superannuation saving and the public means tested age pension. It explores principled approaches that would provide support for saving across the life course while being more neutral, fair and coherent. Further development could include: Modelling of specific reform options; more detailed analysis of superannuation options.

Do we need an annual wealth tax?

Given Australia’s current hybrid income-expenditure tax, an Annual Wealth Tax could make sense as a way of ironing out disparities in the tax treatment of different assets. It could be designed to approximate a comprehensive income tax outcome – by combining a wage tax with deeming, or it could fall more lightly. We already have an Annual Wealth Tax in the transfer system (the asset test); the issue arises as to why we would confine wealth taxation to the not-so-well-off.

Gender equality and Australia’s tax and transfer system

This project brings together researchers from economics, law, social policy and political science to examine gender equality on four key themes:
(1) The contemporary fiscal state and its gender impact;
(2) Taxes, transfers, work, care and capabilities including effective marginal tax rates
(3) Saving and retirement provision over the lifecourse; and
(4) Gender impact analysis in fiscal policymaking and reform.

Tax system behaviour, compliance and administration

Applying behavioural insights to the tax system in Australia

This project in partnership with the Australian Taxation Office explores ways to improve compliance and payment in the tax system, by applying behavioural insights to design innovative payment interventions and evaluating their effects by randomised controlled trials. The empirical analysis will account for heterogeneity in treatment responses and the findings will be combined with a study of regulatory and administrative processes to support the ultimate goal of a legitimate, fair, cost-effective and responsive tax system.

Estimating behaviour effects from changes to the GST on goods purchases

This project aims to estimate price, cross price and income elasticities (the change in quantity demanded in response to a change in the price of a good, other goods, and household income) for a range of non-durable grocery items for different household income groups. The estimated elasticities may be used to examine the behavioural responses and welfare effects of changes to the GST e.g. broadening coverage to include all food, increase in rate.

Data and modelling infrastructure and methods for tax and transfer research and policy analysis

TTPI is working with the Australian Tax Office, Treasury and DSS to build the modelling and data infrastructure necessary for researchers to carry out excellent research and analysis on taxes and transfers in Australia and elsewhere.

Taxpayer behaviour: Elasticity of taxable income using administrative data

This project uses administrative taxpayer panel record data to estimate behavioural response elasticities of taxpayers to differential marginal tax rates, thresholds and notches in the tax system such as the personal income tax rate structure and Higher Education Contribution levy phase-in.

Taxpayer rights and scrutiny of the tax office

This project is a response to various current Inquiries into rights and oversight in the tax system, including an Inquiry of the Inspector-General of Taxation into the Charter of Taxpayer Rights, in light of national and international developments especially concerning exchange of information and investigation across borders. The project also explores the oversight and scrutiny of the Australian Taxation Office.

Budgets and fiscal federalism

Renewing Australian federalism

This project in partnership with researchers at the University of Melbourne, funded by the Melbourne School of Government, is exploring various aspects of fiscal federalism in Australia including State taxes; the link between federalism and democracy; and potential reforms to horizontal fiscal equalisation.

Land rent taxation

This project explores theory and policy for land taxation. There is increased interest in land taxation in Australia and indeed in other countries, as reflected for example in the Henry report on tax reform in 2010 and the UK Mirrlees Report in 2011. This interest stems from the immobility of land as a factor of production, which stands in contrast to other factors such as capital and labour. This paper revisits the work of the 18th century reformer Henry George, and considers the theoretical and political challenges of George’s ‘single tax’.

Updated:  25 February 2016/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team