Taming Complexity in Australian Income Tax

Sydney Law Review, Vol. 25, No. 4, pp. 467-505, 2003

40 Pages Posted: 27 Aug 2010

See all articles by Richard Krever

Richard Krever

University of Western Australia Law School

Date Written: December 1, 2003

Abstract

‘Simplification’ has been the mantra of tax reformers and tax deformers since the late 1950s and has frequently been cited as a rationale for tax changes in the closing years of the twentieth century and the opening years of the twenty-first. The near universal agreement by tax critics that simplicity is an object of tax reform is not mirrored by universal agreement as to what simplicity entails. This paper explores the phenomenon of complexity in the Australian income tax. The paper considers the causes of complexity, reviewing the possible contributions of the parties most closely connected to the tax system - the judges who interpret the legislation, the tax advisers who work with it, the drafters who write it, the Treasury that designs it, and the legislature that enacts it as law. The paper concludes that all parties must bear some blame for the complexity but prime responsibility falls on the legislature on two counts. First, the legislature has failed to eliminate the irrational distinctions in the law to which most complexity can be traced and, second, it has added new layers of complexity by using the tax system as a spending tool to distort market and social behaviour.

Suggested Citation

Krever, Richard, Taming Complexity in Australian Income Tax (December 1, 2003). Sydney Law Review, Vol. 25, No. 4, pp. 467-505, 2003. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1666064

Richard Krever (Contact Author)

University of Western Australia Law School ( email )

M253
35 Stirling Highway
Crawley, Western Australia 6009
Australia

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
121
Abstract Views
641
rank
243,097
PlumX Metrics