WHY  TAX  LAWYERS  WOULD  FAVOUR  GST
"Most ordinary people ... rightly believe they pay more than their share of the nation's taxes while others in the community take more than their share of the nation's product and pay little tax. Economists call taking more than one's share 'economic rent'. In a rare disclosure of profound economic truth the [Australian] Prime Minister, Mr John Howard, is on record observing that taxes on economic rents are the only ones that do not cause any economic disruption." -- Ric Small, Land Economics Program, University of Technology, Sydney, 'The Australian Financial Review,' January 9, 1998, reprinted in 'Good Government,'

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GOOD GOVERNMENT, FEBRUARY 1998 -- PAGE 7
WHY TAX LAWYERS WOULD FAVOUR GST
by Ric Small, in The Australian Financial Review, Friday, January 9, 1998

Mr Douglass's contribution to the tax debate ("High time for a fightback", AFR Opinion, January 7) provided a useful insight as to why tax lawyers would support a GST [Goods and Services Tax].

Unlike the people who produce things and who reject the GST because they naively recognise that consumption taxes are regressive, tax lawyers want a tax system that makes their job easier.

Mr Douglass seems to think that if ordinary PAYE [Pay As You Earn] taxpayers knew the difficulties he and his colleagues had navigating the kilos of tax legislation, they would all embrace the GST out of a sense of compassion for their tax agents.

Most ordinary people neither know nor care about the number of pages in the Income Tax Assessment Act.

They rightly believe they pay more than their share of the nation's taxes while others in the community take more than their share of the nation's product and pay little tax.

Economists call taking more than one's share 'economic rent'.

In a rare disclosure of profound economic truth the Prime Minister, Mr John Howard, is on record observing that taxes on economic rents are the only ones that do not cause any economic disruption.

Land rent is one example of an economic rent. Taxes on land have been shown to be simple and visible.

Places that collect a significant portion of land rent as public revenue have demonstrated consistent economic and social benefits.

There are other indentifiable concentrations of economic rent that could also be targeted for taxation, such as share and property speculation.

Taxation of economic rents appears to be the best solution. Not only would these make the tax agent's job easier, but they would also encourage several more productive economic behaviours while more reliably funding the public purse.

Their fatal defect appears to be that they would take some of the toil-free income from those who are most capable of resisting them.

Ric Small, Land Economics Program,
University of Technology, Sydney, NSW.

__ END of article __

Ric Small is a Lecturer in the Faculty of Design, Architecture, and Building, at the University of Technology, Sydney, Australia.
His published work includes Earning an Income versus Making Money; Positivism, Naturalism and the Human Condition; and A Client's Guide to Land Surveying, 1995.
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