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Labor will abolish John Howard's funeral tax.

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Kim Beazley, Simon Crean - Labor Will Abolish John Howard's Funeral Tax //media/0901/kbscmsftax100901.html Monday, 10 September 2001

Labor Will Abolish John Howard's Funeral Tax Kim Beazley, Leader of the Opposition, and Simon Crean, Shadow Treasurer

Media Statement - 10 September 2001

A Beazley Labor Government will abolish the GST on funerals.

Services provided by funeral directors which go towards a funeral service will be made GST free. This includes, for example, the funeral notice, venue hiring, securing a grave or memorial plaque, the celebrant, coffins, wreaths and floral tributes.

Labor will also refund the GST already paid on pre-paid funerals where the service has not been delivered by the time the GST is removed from funerals.

This is another instalment of Labor's plan to take the GST off some essential goods and services to ease the pressure on Australian families.

Imposing a GST on funeral expenses is an unfair burden on Australian families, especially the elderly. It is the equivalent of a death tax.

It is a terrible time in any families when someone loses a life partner and it's particularly tough on older Australians. The last thing they need is a tax bill.

People bear it, like they have to bear their grief. But it is a burden they should not have to bear.

Under a Labor Government, it is a burden they won't have to bear. Labor will get rid of John Howard's death tax.

The unfairness of imposing a GST on funerals is regularly raised with Labor members by older Australians, their families and the people who provide the funeral service. According to the Australian Funeral Directors Association:

"…the GST is perceived by consumers to be akin to the re-introduction of the death duty, … It is clear from our review that Australian people resent the fact that someone who has worked hard and paid taxes throughout their life, is also taxed upon their death … The Australian people perceive that the GST unfairly taxes the aged when they are the population demographic least able to afford


the additional tax." (Australian Funeral Directors Association, submission to the ALP, 5 September 2001)

Before the GST was introduced, the service component of funerals was untaxed and specific items such as coffins or wreaths were wholesale sales tax exempt. Now almost all funeral costs are subject to the GST, which has forced significant price rises.

Making funeral services GST-free will allow funeral directors to lower the funeral expenses faced by families in their hour of need. And it will lower their administrative burden, without complicating it for anyone else. It shows that the GST can be made fairer and simpler.

Labor will work closely with Australia's funeral directors and other interested parties to settle the fine detail of this important measure to ensure that it delivers maximum simplicity and fairness.

The final cost of this initiative and the timing of its introduction will be announced in the lead-up to the Federal election.

Taking the GST off funerals is just one way Labor will deliver a GST tax cut for families.

It is one of four reforms already announced in which we will remove the burden of John Howard's unfair GST from Australians who it hits the hardest:

Labor will make the GST fairer by taking it off funeral services; ● Labor will make the GST fairer by taking it off caravan park site fees; ● Labor will make the GST fairer by taking it off women's sanitary items; and ● Labor will make the GST fairer by compensating charities for the cost of the GST when they help

the poorest Australians. ●

And like our other plans to remove the GST from some of life's essentials, making funerals GST-free is permanent. Once it is taken off, it will never be put back, and it won't be eroded by inflation.

Labor's plan to abolish John Howard's tax on funerals makes the GST fairer and simpler. It's only Labor that is prepared to do it. Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.