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Taxation Reform: Let's get off the snowball express

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OCT 28 '9 8 02=16PM CSA-UC 61 6 2902163 P. 1 /1

Media Release

Taxation Reform: Let’s get off the snowball express Wednesday 27 October 1998

The Uniting Church’s national body for community services welcomes the Government’s announcement of the Taxation Task Force, but warns, if taxation policy is railroaded through, it will have a snowball’s chance in hell of providing good outcomes for Australia.

Reform of Australia’s taxation system is the most wide ranging public policy development since Federation and care needs to be taken in its implementation.

The Chair of UCSA Rev Harry Herbert said today, “It is an outrage that this policy process may be railroaded. We all witnessed the recent debacle of aged care reform and assume the government has leamt something from this experience. Australia doesn’t deserve to suffer the consequences of policy on the run.” .

“Adequate time to consult is critical”, he said. “Many unanswered questions require thorough consultation and discussion. There are issues to be clarified around health, education and community services. Unfortunately, the recently announced task force has only involved eminent Australians from health and education but no representative from community services, the largest industry in Australia. To exclude such representation is a travesty of good policy process.”

The Churches and the community sector want to work through the following critical taxation issues with the Government: • how commercial and non commercial enterprises will be treated with regard to FBI status; • how restrictions on exemption from fringe benefit tax will affect the sector;

• how Government will meet the welfare shortfall left by charities unable to provide services due to decreased financial position; • how the non-profit sector will deal with the greater administrative load associated with the GST; and how Government intends to compensate the sector for the extra drain on already limited resources.

The National Director of UCSA Ms Libby Davies said, “We support the retention of Fringe Benefit Tax, where the proportion of salary or wages allowed as fringe benefits does not exceed 30% and is applied to all non-profit organisations. We agree that it is time rules are placed to instil clarity and fairness in the use of such exemptions. However, the sector needs the time to talk and to agree on the best approach. The Government must understand the implications of potential loss of revenue and extra cost imposed on the sector.”

The Uniting Church urgently calls the Government to: • broaden representation on the consultative committee; • lengthen the timeframe for the work of the consultative processes; and • accept our invitation to meet with the major churches, and others from the community sector,

in the interest of achieving best outcomes for all Australians.

C ontacts:

R ev. H arry H erb ert M rs E lain e O lley, W A Synod R ev D o u g la s J o n es, Q L D S ynod M s L ibby D avies, N a tio n a l D ire cto r U C SA

02 9267 7 3 9 9 bh, 02 9415 1464 ah, 0419 224 130 m 08 9220 3333 b h, 08 9361 9749 ah 07 3 3 6 7 3838 bh 02 6290 2160 b h, 02 6231 4087 ah, 0418 634206m