As tax practitioners will know, there have been several tax reviews in Australia over the years – Asprey, and the Ralph Review to name but 2. And we’ve had several animal and insect tax reviews – such as ANTS (the A New Tax System measures) and RATS (Reform of the Australian Tax System)! A very colourful past indeed! And now we have the Henry review.
Tax reviews generally sound like good ideas at the time – they present opportunities to clean up, clear out, and generally improve the tax law. New ideas come forward – some radical, some not – but at least they get an airing. Trouble is, the government of the day that sets up the review creates something of a rod for its own back. Expectations arise, and rise, of a new improved model with tax changes that will benefit many. But there will always be winners and losers in any review. After all, the equity, simplicity, efficiency mantra that always accompanies tax reform doesn’t translate equally to all taxpayers. It is almost certain the Henry review will be no exception.
And in an interesting insight, some questioning in recent Senate Estimates hearings has revealed that some of the people who assisted in preparing the Henry review report itself are also working on the Government’s response to that report.