From July this year, the 32.5% tax bracket will be lifted to $90,000 from $87,000 and a new tax offset to provide up to $530 a year, paid as a lump sum to taxpayers earning between $18,200 and $120,000.
The budget is forecast to return to balance, with a $2.2 billion surplus, in 2019-20.
The general view is that it’s an election budget, with a government lagging in the polls – Malcolm Turnbull has now, infamously, lost 31 Newspolls in a row – and hoping to appeal to the swinging voters in middle Australia who hold the Coalition’s chances of a third term in office in their hands.
Within minutes it was clear what Labor’s rhetorical attack would be based on ahead on Opposition leader Bill Shorten’s budget reply speech on Thursday night: fairness.
Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said the budget “fails the fairness test” for pensioners, and on education, hospitals and Medicare.
“Any budget that gives a handout to big business but hurts pensioners is a bad budget,” he said.
“This budget also fails the fiscal test. Even with $40 billion in additional tax revenue.”
The good news is that Labor will back the personal income tax changes that start on that begin on July 1.
That means every low-to-medium promised a lump sum of between $200 and $530 will get it.
But Morrison promised broader changes to the income tax system over the next seven years, killing off the 37% tax rate and the accompanying bracket creep in 2024 so the 94% of workers who earn between $40,000 and $200,000 will pay only one rate: 32.5%.
But Bowen won’t commit to those changes.
“Most of this package is off in the never never – it’s a hoax for Mr Turnbull to tell people they have to vote for him at least two more times before they tax relief in 2024,” he said in a release before going on to tell Seven News that: “the Government has really got to make the case… I don’t know if you know what the economy will be like in 2024, but I don’t, so we want to have a good look at that.”
Labor is also zeroing in on pensioners and older Australians in its pitch.
“They still want to take $14 a fortnight off people on the pension and Newstart through the Clean Energy supplement. I mean, the things that have failed in Budgets past of the Liberal Party are still there in this Budget,” Bowen told Seven.
In his post budget statement Bowen said: “Funding just 14,000 new in-home aged care packages over four years is another hoax, with funding being cut from residential aged care to pay for it. There are still 100,000 people on Turnbull’s waiting list for in-home care.”
The shadow treasurer’s repeated message to the media was a complaint that “$80 billion being given away to big business” while hinting that Labor will reveal its own income tax plan down the track.
In interviews on Tuesday night, Bowen said Labor would support the government’s crackdown on the black economy and changes to superannuation for people under 25.