Media Releases
Review of Business Taxation press release
No. 4/98

EMBARGO:  23 November 1998   12.00 noon


The Chairman of the Review of Business Taxation, Mr John Ralph, AO, today released the first of the Review’s consultative documents, a discussion paper entitled A Strong Foundation. The other members of the Review are Mr Rick Allert, AM and Mr Bob Joss.

Mr Ralph likened the business tax system to the leaning tower of Pisa – "it cannot be fixed simply by adding another storey, what is required is a strong and stable foundation before we can start the task of rebuilding".

Before turning to detailed policy issues, the Review wishes to encourage discussion of two interlocking features of a strong foundation for the business tax system – national objectives and framework principles to underpin that system, and enduring reforms to its supporting processes of policy, legislation and administration.

The Review will be conducting public consultations on the discussion paper in all capital cities in early December and has asked for written submissions by the end of this year.

"We are looking forward to input from business and from the wider community through both the consultative meetings and submissions. It is important that we can reach a broad consensus on the objectives and principles to enable us to build the strongest possible foundation for business taxation", Mr Ralph said.

The Review advances three key objectives for the business tax system: optimising economic growth, ensuring equity and facilitating simplification. To support these objectives, tax design principles have been proposed at the policy, legislative and administrative levels.

Possible reforms to the way in which business tax policy and legislation are developed and administered are also proposed in the discussion paper. "We will be consulting also on our proposals for a more integrated and open design process for business tax policy, with a view to refining recommendations aimed at ensuring a simpler, better product", Mr Ralph said.

Those process reforms include: integrated teams and clear accountabilities for developing policy, legislation and administration; strengthened consultation; an advisory board to focus on the overall performance of the business tax system; an ongoing strategy for business tax simplification; and a Charter of Business Taxation to capture the requirements of a strong foundation for the business tax system.

With the cooperation of the Australian Taxation Office and the Office of Parliamentary Counsel, the Review will be testing its integrated design process through development of draft exposure legislation to be available to the Government with the Review’s final report no later than 30 June 1999.

Early in the new year, the Review will release its second discussion paper as a basis for consultations and submissions on specific business tax issues, including the Government’s reforms announced in A New Tax System.

23 November 1998