Analysing Implicit Tax Expenditures

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Abstract

For almost three decades, the Australian Treasury has issued an annual 'tax expenditure statement' detailing concessions in Australia's tax laws. It was originally argued that tax expenditure budgets (the international term for these statements) would lead to simpler laws with fewer and better targeted concessions. This clearly has not happened in Australia, as tax laws have become more complex and tax concessions less efficient since the tax expenditure budget concept was accepted in Australia. The problem is not with the concept itself but rather with its execution. In particular, Australia has copied a United States model - a model that may be very inappropriate in the context of Australian tax jurisprudence. In Australia, many tax concessions that give rise to uncertainty and complexity have not been introduced explicitly by the legislature but rather result from judicial doctrines that have been implicitly endorsed in the design of the tax law. Tax expenditure analysis will not yield better outcomes until it is extended to these implicit tax expenditures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)426-448
Number of pages23
JournalMelbourne University Law Review
Volume35
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

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