Show download pdf controls
  • Australian taxpayer and investor attitudes and behaviour

    Australia’s complex taxation and superannuation systems are community assets that are intended to provide financial security for the Australian way of life. They help all Australians by paying for essential services such as healthcare, education, infrastructure, transport, and community services, as well as personal living costs upon retirement from the workforce. The Australian government's most recent Intergenerational Report (Commonwealth of Australia, 2015) reveals just how complex the taxation and superannuation systems are to manage. Australia has a growing population that will live longer. It is projected that by 2055, the proportion of the population aged 65+ will more than double, and average life expectancy at birth will reach 95 years (Commonwealth of Australia, 2015). At the same time, the business environment will continue to be transformed by globalisation and technological advancements. These trends mean the government must consider policies that have the potential to improve living standards.

    Meanwhile, Australian taxpayer attitudes and behaviour are problematic. Dawson and Smith (2018) recently undertook a national survey to better understand the issues. They found that around half of all Australians think that Australia is a high-taxing country. Young people, in particular, think they pay too much tax and high-income earners pay too little. In fact, when you compare the tax to GDP ratio across OECD member countries, Australia is relatively low-taxing (28.2%) when considered against the OECD average (34.0%), but certainly Denmark (45.9%) (Dawson and Smith, 2018). The Federal Budget 2018 – an election budget that delivers tax cuts to low and middle-income earners – highlights that teaching and learning about taxation and superannuation at school must do more than transmit knowledge about administrative practicalities. In his comment for The Sydney Morning Herald, economics editor Ross Gittins described a 'blue skies budget' that was 'too good to be true' (Gittins, 2018). Gittins’ healthy scepticism confirms it is simply not enough to prepare students to check one’s payslip for accurate tax and super contributions - informed voting decisions are best made based on critical engagement with political policies. Such critical engagement includes weighing the implications for self and others in terms of taxpayer-funded access to quality healthcare, education, infrastructure, transport, and community services.

      Last modified: 04 Sep 2018QC 56750