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Labor 2013-14 Budget Savings (Measures No. 1) Bill 2014



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BILLS DIGEST NO. 26, 2014-15 11 SEPTEMBER 2014

Labor 2013-14 Budget Savings (Measures No. 1) Bill 2014 Kai Swoboda Economics Section

Contents

Purpose of the Bill ............................................................... 2

Structure of the Bill ............................................................. 2

Background ......................................................................... 2

Previous equivalent Bills .......................................................... 2

Original rationale for 2015-16 tax changes ............................ 2

Committee consideration .................................................... 3

Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills .............. 3

Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights .................. 3

Policy position of non-government parties/independents ..... 4

Financial implications .......................................................... 4

Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights .................... 5

Key issues and provisions..................................................... 5

Changes proposed by the Bill .................................................. 5

Threshold and marginal rates changes ................................. 6

Low income tax offset changes ............................................. 6

Impact on taxpayers ................................................................ 7

Compensation for cost of living increases or repairing the Budget? ............................................................................. 7

Name of the Bill ....................................................................... 8

Date introduced: 16 July 2014

House: House of Representatives

Portfolio: Treasury

Commencement: The day after Royal Assent.

Links: The links to the Bill, its Explanatory Memorandum and second reading speech can be found on the Bill’s home page, or through http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_ Legislation

When Bills have been passed and have received Royal Assent, they become Acts, which can be found at the ComLaw website at http://www.comlaw.gov.au/.

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Purpose of the Bill The purpose of the Labor 2013-14 Budget Savings (Measures No. 1) Bill 2014 (the Bill) is to amend the Clean Energy (Income Tax Rates Amendments) Act 20111 and the Clean Energy (Tax Laws Amendments) Act 20112 so that both Acts have their future operative provisions repealed. Both Acts have provisions already in operation and these would not be repealed. The Bill would thus:

• repeal an increase in the nominal tax-free threshold from $18,200 in 2014-15 to $19,400 in 2015-16

• maintain the second personal marginal tax rate at 32.5 per cent rather than increase it to 33 per cent from 2015-16

• maintain the maximum value of the low income tax offset3 (LITO) at $445 rather than change the maximum value of the LITO to $300 from 2015-16 and

• maintain the threshold below which a person may receive LITO at a taxable income of $66,667 and the withdrawal rate at 1.5 per cent, rather than the income threshold increasing to $67,000 and the withdrawal rate falling to 1 per cent from 2015-16.

Structure of the Bill The Bill contains two Schedules. Schedule 1 amends the Clean Energy (Income Tax Rates Amendments) Act 2011 to repeal the increase in the nominal tax-free threshold and increase in the second personal marginal tax rate. Schedule 2 amends the Clean Energy (Tax Laws Amendments) Act 2011 to maintain the existing income threshold and withdrawal rate for the LITO.

Background Previous equivalent Bills A Bill in equivalent terms has been presented on two separate occasions in the current Parliament:

• the Clean Energy (Income Tax Rates and Other Amendments) Bill 2013 was part of the initial carbon tax repeal package of Bills introduced into the House of Representatives on 13 November 2013. This Bill, along with the other parts of the package of Bills was negatived in the Senate on 20 March 20144 and

• the Clean Energy (Income Tax Rates and Other Amendments) Bill 2013 [No. 2] was part of the second carbon tax repeal package of Bills introduced into the House of Representatives on 23 June 2014. This Bill, along with the other parts of the package of Bills was negatived by the Senate on 9 July 2014.5

The final package of Bills to repeal the carbon tax was introduced in the House of Representatives on 14 July 2014 and was agreed to by the Senate on 17 July 2014.6 However, a Bill to repeal the legislated 2015-16 tax changes was no longer part of this carbon tax repeal package.

Original rationale for 2015-16 tax changes As part of the original carbon price arrangements, a fixed price period was to apply for the first three years (2012-13 to 2014-15) and then the carbon price was to be set in an emissions trading scheme (ETS) from 1 July 2015. The assumption for the carbon price was for prices to continue to increase over future years, but for a higher one-off increase in 2015-16 with the transition to the ETS.

1. Clean Energy (Income Tax Rates Amendments) Act 2011, accessed 13 August 2014. 2. Clean Energy (Tax Laws Amendments) Act 2011, accessed 13 August 2014. 3. The LITO is a tax offset that effectively lifts the nominal tax-free threshold for eligible tax payers (those with a taxable income of less than $66,667). The LITO is not a fixed amount. Rather, those with a taxable income up to $37,000 are eligible for the maximum amount ($445) and

those with a taxable income of between $37,000 and $66,667 face a reduction from the maximum amount (withdrawal rate) of $1.50 for every $1 earned above $37,000. 4. Parliament of Australia, ‘Clean Energy (Income Tax Rates and Other Amendments) Bill 2013 homepage’, Australian Parliament website, accessed 18 August 2014. 5. Parliament of Australia, ‘Clean Energy (Income Tax Rates and Other Amendments) Bill 2013 [No. 2] homepage’, Australian Parliament website,

accessed 18 August 2014. 6. Parliament of Australia, ‘Clean Energy Legislation (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2014 homepage’, Australian Parliament website, accessed 18 August 2014.

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However, the subsequent implementation in 2012 of a one-way link to the European Union emissions trading scheme (EU ETS) and the low (and falling) prices in the EU ETS led to the previous Government proposing to defer the legislated tax changes in the 2013-14 Budget.7 The rationale for the deferral at the time was that the lower projected future carbon prices as included in the 2013-14 Budget were to exceed the level originally projected in 2015-16 ($25.40) in 2018-19 (Figure 1).

Figure 1 Australian carbon price assumptions under the carbon price mechanism package, July 2011, May 2013 and August 2013

Australian Government, Budget strategy and outlook: budget paper no. 1: 2013-14, Canberra, May 2013, pp. 2-48, accessed 15 August 2014; Secretary to the Treasury and the Secretary to the Department Finance and Deregulation, Pre-election economic and fiscal outlook 2013, August, 2013, p. 55, accessed 15 August 2014.

With the 2013-14 policy change not being implemented before the 2013 election and the repeal of the carbon pricing mechanism (CPM) arrangements in July 2014, the original policy intent in implementing the tax changes is no longer valid.

Committee consideration Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills The Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills had no comment on the Bill.8

Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights has commented on this Bill as well as the identical provisions contained in the two previous Bills.

In its comments on the Clean Energy (Income Tax Rates and Other Amendments) Bill 2013 in December 2013, the Committee sought further information from the Treasurer on the impact of the changes made by the Bill, in particular whether the changes will have an impact on the right to an adequate standard of living.9 A response by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, included in a later report by the Committee, noted that:

The Clean Energy (Income Tax) Repeal Bill does not seek to make any changes to the current operation of income tax rates, thresholds and offsets. Instead, it forestalls a number of planned changes that would otherwise come into effect from 1 July 2015. As a result, no taxpayer will end up with any greater tax liabilities as a result of these amendments than they would be subject to on an equivalent income in the current year.

7. Australian Government, Budget measures: budget paper no. 2: 2013-14, Canberra, May 2013, p. 24, accessed 12 August 2014. 8. Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills, Alert Digest No. 10 of 2014, The Senate, 27 August 2014, p. 25, accessed 5 September 2014. 9. Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, First report of the 44th Parliament, The Senate, Canberra, 10 December 2013, pp. 12-13,

accessed 10 September 2014.

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2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20

Original CPM package (July 2011)

2013-14 Budget (May 2013)

Pre-Election Fiscal Outlook (August 2013) - ETS commences 2014-15

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Given the only consequence of the Clean Energy (Income Tax) Repeal Bill will be to preserve the currently applicable tax arrangements, the Government is comfortable the proposed changes are compatible with human rights.

I also note none of the changes would have any impact on an individual’s entitlement to government support, such as unemployment benefits or the age pension, should they meet the relevant income and other tests. 10

The Committee was not satisfied that the Parliamentary Secretary’s response provided a detailed and evidence-based explanation for the measures in accordance with its usual expectations. However, as this Bill had been negatived by the Senate, the Committee had concluded its examination of the Bill.11

In its consideration of the Clean Energy (Income Tax Rates and Other Amendments) Bill 2013 [No. 2] in July 2014, the Committee once again sought advice from the Parliamentary Secretary about whether the Bill was compatible with the right to an adequate standard of living.12

In the Committee’s August 2014 report to the Parliament there was no discussion about the response of the Parliamentary Secretary. However, the Committee once again, this time in relation to the Labor 2013-14 Budget Savings (Measures No. 1) Bill 2014, sought advice from the Parliamentary Secretary about whether the Bill is compatible with the right to an adequate standard of living.13

No response by the Parliament Secretary was included in the Committee’s most recent report (September 2014).14

Policy position of non-government parties/independents The views and voting patterns of non-government parties/independents on the previous Bills presented in equivalent terms may provide a guide on whether the Bill is supported in the Senate.

Senator Madigan (Democratic Labour Party) voted in support of the Clean Energy (Income Tax Rates and Other Amendments) Bill 2013 [No. 2] (the Bill that is equivalent to the current Bill) when it was separated from the carbon tax repeal package of Bills in the Senate on 9 July 2014.15

The ALP Senators, Australian Greens’ Senators, the Palmer United Party Senators and the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party Senator voted against the repeal of the Clean Energy (Income Tax Rates and Other Amendments) Bill 2013 [No. 2].16 Independent Senator Xenophon also voted against the Bill.17

Prior to the introduction of the Clean Energy (Income Tax Rates and Other Amendments) Bill 2013 [No. 2], Senators Leyonhjelm (Liberal Democratic Party) and Day (Family First) were reported as opposing the repeal of the legislated income tax changes.18 They subsequently also voted against this Bill in the Senate on 9 July 2014.19

Financial implications The Explanatory Memorandum notes that the financial impact of the measures included in the Bill is a revenue gain of $2.2 billion over the four years to 2017-18.20 This is consistent with the 2013-14 Budget estimates for the relevant forward estimates years presented in that Budget (Table 1). The original ALP 2013-14 Budget proposal was to defer the 2015-16 tax changes until 2018-19. However, the impact of the measures proposed by the Bill will extend beyond the current forward estimates period by permanently removing the tax changes.

10. Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, Eighth report of the 44th Parliament, The Senate, Canberra, 24 June 2014, pp. 34-35, accessed 10 September 2014. 11. Ibid., p. 35. 12. Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, Ninth report of the 44th Parliament, The Senate, Canberra, 15 July 2014, pp. 13-14, accessed

10 September 2014. 13. Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, Tenth report of the 44th Parliament, The Senate, Canberra, 26 August 2014, pp. 36-7, accessed 10 September 2014. 14. Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, Eleventh report of the 44th Parliament, The Senate, Canberra, 2 September 2014, accessed

10 September 2014. 15. Australia, Senate, Journals, 40, 2013-14, 9 July 2014, p. 1096, accessed 12 August 2014. 16. Ibid. 17. Ibid. 18. A Creighton, ‘Senate threat to Abbott’s tax plans’, The Australian, 9 June 2014, p. 1, accessed 25 June 2014. 19. Australia, Senate, op. cit. 20. Explanatory Memorandum, Labor 2013-14 Budget Savings (Measures No. 1) Bill 2014, p. 4, accessed 19 August 2014.

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Table 1 Financial impact of measures proposed by the Bill, 2013-14 to 2017-18 ($ million)

Year 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 Total

Explanatory Memorandum 0 0 820 670 675 2,165

2013-14 Budget

0 0 820 670 na na

Source: Explanatory Memorandum, Labor 2013-14 Budget Savings (Measures No. 1) Bill 2014, p. 4, accessed 19 August 2014; Australian Government, Budget measures: budget paper no. 2: 2013-14, Canberra, May 2013, p. 24, accessed 12 August 2014.

Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights The Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights can be found at page 9 of the Explanatory Memorandum to the Bill. As required under Part 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 (Cth), the Government has assessed the Bill’s compatibility with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of that Act. The Government considers that the Bill is compatible.

Key issues and provisions Changes proposed by the Bill The major changes to income tax arrangements as part of the Clean Energy Future package were to:

• increase the nominal tax-free threshold from $6,001 to $18,201 from 2012-13 and then to $19,401 from 2015-16

• reduce the Low Income Tax Offset (LITO) from $1,500 to $445 from 2012-13 and then to $300 from 2015-16, with changes to the withdrawal thresholds and rates and

• increase the marginal tax rate for those earning between $37,000 and $80,000 from 30 per cent to 32.5 per cent in 2012-13 and then to 33 per cent from 2015-16.

The Bill proposes to repeal the legislated 2015-16 changes, thereby retaining a nominal tax-free threshold of $18,201, a marginal rate of 32.5 per cent for the second income tax rate and a maximum LITO of $445, with a 1.5 per cent withdrawal rate from a threshold of $37,000 (Table 2).

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Table 2 Changes to income tax scales and the low income tax offset related to the implementation of the CPM

2011-12 2012-13 2015-16

Threshold

($)

Marginal rate

Threshold ($) Marginal rate

Threshold ($) Marginal rate

1st rate 6,001 15% 18,201 19% 19,401 19%

2nd rate 37,001 30% 37,001 32.5% 37,001 33%

3rd rate 80,001 37% 80,001 37% 80,001 37%

4th rate 180,001 45% 180,001 45% 180,001 45%

Effective tax-free threshold

16,000 20,542 20,979

Low income tax offset

1,500 4%

withdrawal rate from 30,000

445 1.5%

withdrawal rate from 37,000

300 1.0%

withdrawal rate from 37,000

Source: Australian Government, Securing a clean energy future: the Australian Government’s climate change plan, Commonwealth of Australia, July 2011, p. 42, accessed 10 September 2014.

The changes to 2015-16 income tax arrangements were legislated by the Clean Energy (Income Tax Rates Amendments) Act 2011 and Clean Energy (Tax Laws Amendments) Act 2011. In order to prevent these changes taking place from 1 July 2015, these Acts need to be amended. Textually the Bill is very simple. It removes the outstanding commencement provisions, and the Part to which the commencement provisions would otherwise apply (in both cases this is Part 2 of Schedule 1 of the relevant Act). Under both Acts the commencement date was to have been 1 July 2015.

Threshold and marginal rates changes Income tax thresholds and marginal tax rates are prescribed in the Income Tax Rates Act 1986 (ITRA).21 Part 2, Schedule 1 of the Clean Energy (Income Tax Rates Amendments) Act 2011 amended the ITRA from 1 July 2015 to lift the definition of the tax-free threshold from $18,200 to $19,400 and to increase the marginal tax rate for those earning more than $37,000 but not more than $80,000 from 32.5 per cent to 33 per cent. The Bill would repeal the changes.

Low income tax offset changes Part 2 of Schedule 1 of the Clean Energy (Tax Laws Amendments) Act 2011 amended the Income Tax Assessment Act 193622 from 1 July 2015 to provide for an increase in the threshold for the LITO from $66,667 to $67,000 and provides for a reduction in the value of the maximum LITO rebate from $445 to $300 and a reduction in the taper rate from 1.5 cents for every dollar above $37,000 to 1.0 cents for every dollar above $37,000. Once again the Bill would repeal these changes.

21. Income Tax Rates Act 1986, accessed 15 August 2014. 22. Income Tax Assessment Act 1936, accessed 19 August 2014.

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Impact on taxpayers Based on the latest available published taxation statistics for the 2011-12 income year, around seven million taxpayers with taxable incomes between $20,000 and $80,000 would benefit from the tax changes currently legislated to commence from 1 July 2015.23

The effect of these income tax changes was to deliver an annual tax cut of at least $300 for taxpayers with a taxable income of between $18,000 and $68,000 in 2012-13 (Figure 2). When the second round of changes were to be implemented in 2015-16, an annual tax cut of $228 would have been received by taxpayers with a taxable income of between $22,000 and $37,000, with the amount of tax cut declining after this income threshold.

Figure 2 Tax cuts arising from proposed changes to income tax scales and the low income tax offset, by level of taxable income

Source: Parliamentary Library estimates.

Compensation for cost of living increases or repairing the Budget? While the original policy intent for the tax changes may no longer be valid, there nevertheless may be arguments on cost of living grounds to support the retention of these tax changes.

For example, modelling by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) on the impact on households of policy changes announced in the 2014-15 Budget—commissioned by the ALP—found that lower income households generally faced greater falls as a share of their mean disposable incomes than comparable households at higher incomes.24 This analysis however included the application of a flexible carbon price from 1 July 2014 in accordance with the ALP’s proposal to bring forward the commencement of the ETS from this date—so that in the complete absence of any carbon liability the impact modelled by NATSEM on households of the 2014-15 Budget would be overstated.

The Government’s rationale in repealing the 2015-16 income tax changes is that it implements a policy announced but not implemented by the former Government and that implementing such savings measures are required as part of a broader budget repair strategy.25

In terms of meeting its objective of returning the budget to a surplus, the Treasurer noted that the 2013-14 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook had included projections for deficits totalling $123 billion in the four years

23. Australian Taxation Office, Taxation statistics 2011-12, Table 3: selected items, by taxable income, age, gender and taxable status, 2011-12 income year, accessed 25 June 2014. 24. E Griffiths, ‘Low-income couples with children to bear brunt of Abbott Government's budget: study’, ABC (online edition), 22 May 2014, accessed 1 July 2014; B Phillips, NATSEM Budget 2014-15 Analysis, National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling, University of Canberra,

26 May 2014, accessed 1 July 2014. 25. J Hockey, ‘Second reading speech: Labor 2013-14 Budget Savings (Measures No. 1) Bill 2014’, House of Representatives, Debates, 16 July 2014, p. 1, accessed 12 August 2014.

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$15 000 $20 000 $25 000 $30 000 $35 000 $40 000 $45 000 $50 000 $55 000 $60 000 $65 000 $70 000 $75 000 $80 000 $85 000 $90 000

Annual tax saving ($)

Annual taxable income (including LITO)

Tax cut 2012-13

Tax cut 2015-16

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to 2016-17.26 Projections included in the 2015-16 Budget, taking into account the range of announced policy measures that improved the budget by almost $18 billion over the three years to 2016-17, was for an improvement of almost $44 billion over the period to 2017-18.27

The impact of not repealing the measures proposed by the Bill would be to increase the projected deficit in 2015-16 and 2016-17 and lower the projected surplus in 2017-18 from $984 million to $309 million (Table 3).

Table 3 Impact on budget fiscal balance of not repealing 2015-16 income tax changes

2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18

Impact of not repealing 2015-16 income tax changes on fiscal balance ($’000) 0 -820 -670 -675

Projected fiscal balance at 2015-16 Budget ($’000) -25,855 -12,214 -6,596 984

Projected fiscal balance at 2015-16 Budget without repeal of 2015-16 income tax changes ($’000) -25,855 -13,034 -7,266 309

Per cent deterioration in projected fiscal balance at 2015-16 Budget without repeal of 2015-16 income tax changes 0.0% 6.7% 10.2% -68.6%

Source: Parliamentary Library estimates using financial impact of the Bill from the Explanatory Memorandum, Labor 2013-14 Budget Savings (Measures No. 1) Bill 2014, p. 4, accessed 19 August 2014; Australian Government, Budget measures: budget paper no. 2: 2013-14, Canberra, May 2013, p. 24, accessed 12 August 2014 and Australian Government, Budget strategy and outlook: budget paper no. 1: 2014- 15, Canberra, May 2013, pp. 3-5, 3-21 and pp. 9-6, accessed 12 August 2014.

Name of the Bill The Office of Parliamentary Counsel’s legislative drafting manual (October 2012) includes guidance to the drafters of legislation on the long and short titles given to Bills.28 Additional guidance is provided by Drafting Direction No. 1.1, Long and short titles of Bills and references to proposed Acts (May 2006).29

The long title is used to describe the contents of the Bill—In the case of this Bill, the long title is ‘A Bill for an Act to amend the law relating to taxation, and for related purposes’. The short title is generally referred to as the name of the Bill and should be as informative as possible and not cause unnecessary confusion to the Parliament or to any other users of legislation. The short title for this Bill is ‘Labor 2013-14 Budget Savings (Measures No. 1) Bill 2014’. Both the long and short titles are able to be amended by the Parliament.

The long title of the Bill is important for parliamentary procedure because it must agree with the notice to present and every clause of the Bill must come within its title.30 Broadly similar requirements are in place in the Senate.31

Short titles of Bills can sometimes be political in nature when slogans, program names, branding or subjective terms are included. Examples of Bills introduced in the Commonwealth Parliament in the last ten years or so cited in a 2009 paper by academics Graeme Orr and Joo-Cheong Tham included:

• Roads to Recovery Bill 2000

• Workplace Relations Amendment (Work Choices) Amendment Bill 2005

• Workplace Relations Amendment (Transition to Forward with Fairness) Bill 2008

• A Better Future for Our Kids Bill 2003 and

26. Ibid. 27. Australian Government, Budget strategy and outlook: budget paper no. 1: 2014-15, Canberra, May 2013, pp. 3-5 and 3-21, accessed 12 August 2014. 28. Office of Parliamentary Counsel (OPC), OPC drafting manual, edn 3.0, October 2012, p. 8, accessed 13 August 2014. 29. OPC, Long and short titles of Bills and references to proposed Acts, Drafting direction 1.1, May 2006, accessed 13 August 2014. 30. House of Representatives, Standing and sessional orders, Standing order 140, chapter 12, p. 61, accessed 20 August 2014. 31. Senate, Standing orders and other orders of the Senate, Standing order 111, chapter 20, February 2014, p. 65, accessed 20 August 2014.

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• Invasion of Iraq Royal Commission (Restoring Public Trust in Government) Bills (Nos. 1 and 2) 2004.32

32. G Orr and JC Tham, ‘The Fair Work Act and other names of shame’, Australian Journal of Administrative Law, 16(2), February 2009, pp. 74-76, accessed 20 August 2014.

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