Tax Page Cull a Step in the Right Direction for Red Tape Reform

The Business Council of Australia has welcomed the federal government’s decision to cut the number of income tax pages by more than 2,000, saying the move should be a template for a comprehensive cull of unnecessary red tape across the economy.

BCA Chief Executive Katie Lahey said the move underlined the relative ease with which governments that are committed to addressing the regulatory blow-out can unwind large amounts of red tape that have passed their used-by date.

“In one sweep, the number of income tax pages is significantly cut – it shows the extent to which much of Australia’s tax law - and regulation generally – is either irrelevant, underused or redundant.

“This should serve as a model for attacking the regulatory blow-out across all areas of the economy, so we can start to reduce its massive cost on business and the community.

As part of its ‘Locking in Prosperity’ reform agenda, the BCA has identified red tape reform as well as tax reform as necessary to locking-in sustained economic growth.

In its Business Regulation Action Plan, the BCA noted that the Tax Act had spiralled from 3,000 to 10,000 pages in just 10 years. The plan found that across Australia, the number of new regulations and pages of legislation has risen by 10 per cent a year – more than three times the rate of economic growth.

Ms Lahey said cutting the number of existing pages of tax law was one step toward simplifying the tax system.

“Major reform is also needed to the processes of legislation and regulation making, so we avoid even getting to the stage where the amount of regulation, such as a 10,000 page Tax Act, is allowed to grow unchecked.

“Governments must ensure the quality, as well as the quantity of legislation and regulation is addressed, to avoid the ‘regulate first, ask questions later’ approach which is the cause of so much unnecessary and overlapping regulation.”