New prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, who signalled earlier this week that tax reform will be a key focus of his leadership, has denied a claim that he’s put his predecessor’s white paper on taxation on hold only weeks away from the release of the preliminary report.
The PM took to Twitter to deny the Fairfax Media story less than hour after it appeared.
This story is not true. Tax reform is at the centre of our efforts to create a more productive, innovative economy http://t.co/8bhy6PTTrC
— Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) September 23, 2015
According to Fairfax, the biggest review of tax ever undertaken was set up by Joe Hockey last year, but is now being “reset”, a source within the review said.
Treasury officials, the Tax White Paper Task Force and the Board of Taxation were reportedly told to stop work on the paper last week.
Australian companies, industry bodies, lobby groups and unions have spent tens of millions of dollars to prepare submissions to the review, with some of the country’s biggest corporations, including the NAB, ANZ and BHP Billiton and even the New Zealand government providing input.
Following the discussion paper released in March, more than 700 public submissions have been received ahead of the green paper, which was due out in mid November, but now won’t be released until next year.
“The entire process has been brought to a halt because we ‘have to rethink taxation from the ground up’ and it’s a ‘reset on tax policy’. They are the words used by the prime minister’s office,” a source told Fairfax Media.
The final white paper was due to be released early next year and was intended to be the Coalition’s taxation policy platform for Tony Abbott to take to the election later in 2016. It now appears that the reform program may be delayed until the vote.
Former Treasury secretary Ken Henry, who on the ABC last night advocated for a major overhaul of the taxation and the need for a national conversation on reform, saying Australians will have to pay more tax, is believed to have told Turnbull to defer the matter until after the next federal election.
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