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'Flood and fire and famine': Tax policy lessons from the Australian responses to natural disasters


  • Palmer, Carolyn


Recent years have seen a series of natural disasters place significant social and fiscal strain on a number of economies. Determining the appropriate tax response to a natural disaster involves multiple complex decisions that often need to be made under time pressure with limited information. While natural disasters are predicted to become more frequent and costly, there has been little focus on the links between taxation and natural disasters. This paper outlines the tax responses to the 2010-2011 Queensland floods and identifies potential tax policy lessons as a useful resource for future tax policy makers, both in Australia and elsewhere. The initial conclusions drawn in the paper are based on 24 semi-structured interviews with Australian tax policy makers (from central, state and regional government, professional organisations, policy think tanks, tax practitioners, tax academics and representatives from the insurance industry) and a review of policy advice documents, Government commentary, and media reports. The paper provides insights into the intent of the tax responses and the environment in which they were made. In addition, the paper discusses whether the responses followed standard tax policy principles, and whether any divergence from these principles was linked to the strength of the country’s tax policy framework and process.

Suggested Citation

  • Palmer, Carolyn, 2014. "'Flood and fire and famine': Tax policy lessons from the Australian responses to natural disasters," Working Paper Series 3718, Victoria University of Wellington, Chair in Public Finance.
  • Handle: RePEc:vuw:vuwcpf:3718

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Natural disasters; Australia; Australian tax policy;

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