Victoria sets standards for tax reform

WA must take notice of the Victorian Review of State Business Taxes, which has set the standard in business tax reforms in Australia.

WA could be left facing a significant disadvantage if it fails to consider the findings of the review.

In a period of low economic growth and some pessimistic forecasts, we cannot afford to knock back opportunities to develop jobs in this State.

The recommendations of the review’s report will, if implemented, introduce a more efficient tax system in Victoria and attract investment to that State.

In essence, the report recom-mends the replace-ment of 17 taxes with three broad-based business taxes – land tax, a reduced payroll tax and gambling tax.

Importantly, the many forms of stamp duty would be abolished under the Victorian Re-view’s recommendations. It was found that business stamp duties were relatively inefficient, had high compliance costs, were distorting business investments, and were volatile.

This would relieve business from the burden of stamp

duty on mortgages, leases, insurances, commercial transactions… the list goes on.

Freeing business from ramshackle stamp duties curr-ently imposed will be like removing a straight jacket from investment.

Instead, a simple land tax with a flat rate of 2.89 per cent is recommended. The broad based tax is to be payable on all business properties, but not property which is a principal place of residence, for primary production, or is owned by charities or clubs.

The new WA Labor Govern-ment has made the promising first step of agreeing to conduct a business tax review during the recent election. Recent political posturing about State budget deficits must not detract from this commitment.

The next step is to actually conduct the review, which we hope will deliver positive recommendations for reforms to the WA Government.

Taxation reform, as proposed in Victoria, could offer those Western Australians joining dole queues genuine hope for a job.

n Joe Lenzo is the Executive Director of the Property Council of Australia (WA Division.

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