Released on Monday, Anglicare Australia’s The Cost of Privilege report found that $68 billion is spent a year in tax concessions for Australia’s wealthiest 20 per cent of households.
“That is greater than the cost of Newstart, disability support, or any other benefit,” said Anglicare Australia executive director Kasy Chambers.
These concessions include $3 billion in tax exemptions on private healthcare and education, $20 billion in superannuation concessions, and capital gains tax exemptions of $40 billion a year.
By contrast, Newstart has a price tag of $11 billion a year. These findings were based on Treasury and ABS figures, as well as the Melbourne Institute’s Housing Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey.
“Too often, the political narrative around our tax and transfer system demonises the most disadvantaged Australians, and portrays taxpayers as unduly burdened by the cost of our tightly targeted welfare system,” said Emma Dawson, executive director of Per Capita, the group commissioned to carry out the research.
“Our analysis of tax concessions for high income earners shows that such concessions cost the federal budget far more than support for any single welfare recipient group.”
However, speaking in question time on Monday, Treasurer Scott Morrison disputed the findings.
Noting the shadow treasurer Chris Bowen had referenced the research in an earlier question time answer, Mr Morrison said, “The insult from the leader of the opposition in the shadow treasurer is to treat these Australians with contempt and tell them that they are somehow cheating the tax system.
“What he doesn’t refer to in the research today is that that research that he is referring to, which is apparently the cost of this great privilege and loophole, includes an estimate of the cost of the CGT exemption for family homes.”
Continuing, he said Mr Shorten was “off the leash” when it comes to tax, while Mr Bowen was a “pathetic hypocrite”.
Responding to Mr Bowen’s questioning around corporate tax cuts, Mr Morrison said, “The shadow treasurer on this matter has had more faces on this than even the leader of the opposition. They are all around … They look in every direction, every single direction.
“What the shadow treasurer is seeking to do to the Australian economy is to tax it within an inch of its life, more than $200 billion in higher taxes. I have only just talked about the ones they have announced so far.”