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Why the Henry Review Fails on Family Tax Reform

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  • Patricia Apps

Abstract

While acknowledging the importance of fairness and the need to avoid creating disincentives in the design of tax reform, the Henry Review recommends a simplified Personal Income Tax and child payments withdrawn on a single family income test. This paper shows that the proposed reforms would consolidate the existing family tax system, which clearly fails in terms of both fairness and disincentives. In the early 1980’s Australia had a highly progressive individual income tax and universal family payments. Since then family income tests on child payments and tax cuts at high income levels have transformed the system into one of joint taxation with the highest marginal rates on low and average wage two-earner families. Under the Review’s recommendations the same families would continue to face the highest tax rates. Data presented indicate strong negative effects on productivity and the tax base due to disincentive effects on labour supply and saving over the life cycle. The paper proposes a return to a strongly progressive individual based income tax and universal family payments.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 642.

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Date of creation: Aug 2010
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Handle: RePEc:auu:dpaper:642

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Keywords: Taxation; Family payments; Time allocation; Labour supply; Saving; Life cycle;

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  1. Erosa, Andres & Gervais, Martin, 2002. "Optimal Taxation in Life-Cycle Economies," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 105(2), pages 338-369, August.
  2. Blundell, Richard & Browning, Martin & Meghir, Costas, 1994. "Consumer Demand and the Life-Cycle Allocation of Household Expenditures," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(1), pages 57-80, January.
  3. Apps, Patricia & Rees, Ray, 1999. "On the taxation of trade within and between households," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 241-263, August.
  4. Attanasio, Orazio P & Browning, Martin, 1995. "Consumption over the Life Cycle and over the Business Cycle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1118-37, December.
  5. Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Jonathan A. Parker, 1999. "Consumption Over the Life Cycle," NBER Working Papers 7271, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Apps, Patricia & Rees, Ray, 2001. "Household production, full consumption and the costs of children," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(6), pages 621-648, December.
  7. Carroll, Christopher D, 1997. "Buffer-Stock Saving and the Life Cycle/Permanent Income Hypothesis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(1), pages 1-55, February.
  8. Reuben Gronau & Daniel S. Hamermesh, 2006. "Time Vs. Goods: The Value Of Measuring Household Production Technologies," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 52(1), pages 1-16, 03.
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