The Fiscal and Fairness Implications of the Stage 3 Income Tax Cuts: Concerns from the Community and Welfare Sector

On 18 April 2023, The Tax Law and Policy Research Program of the Melbourne Centre for Commercial Law and the Melbourne Social Equity Institute hosted a hybrid seminar on the fiscal and fairness implications of the Stage 3 income tax cuts.

The Stage 3 tax cuts were legislated in 2019 with bipartisan support and are due to commence on 1 July 2024. The cuts involve a significant flattening of the progressive personal income tax and are estimated to amount to approximately AUD 184 billion in revenue foregone over the first 8 years of their operation. Distributional analysis suggests that the benefits of the cuts primarily accrue to high wealth and income taxpayers.

The public seminar discussed the fiscal and fairness implications of the tax cuts and queried whether their retention can be justified. The seminar featured legal, economic and political analysis of the tax cuts from experts across the University of Melbourne and feature an address by Cassandra Goldie (CEO, ACOSS) discussing the concerns of the community and welfare sector.

The seminar was the first in a series of events organised by the Community Tax Project - an alliance between the academic and community and welfare sectors to advocate on tax policy and reform to better achieve social and economic justice. The project is supported by the Tax Law and Policy research program at the Melbourne Centre for Commercial Law and with funding provided by the Melbourne Social Equity Institute and the Australian Research Council (DE190100346).

View the seminar recording

About the speakers

Adjunct Professor Cassandra Goldie is CEO of ACOSS and Adjunct Professor with UNSW Sydney. With public policy expertise in economic, social and environmental issues, civil society, social justice and human rights, Cassandra has represented the interests of people who are disadvantaged, and civil society generally, in major national and international processes as well as in grassroots communities. Prior to joining ACOSS, Cassandra held senior roles in both the NFP and public sectors, including with the Australian Human Rights Commission, Darwin Community Legal Service and Senior Executive with Legal Aid in Western Australia. Cassandra has a PhD from UNSW Sydney and a Masters of Law from University College London. She is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and serves on the UNSW Law Advisory Committee, the Australian Climate Roundtable and the Energy Charter Independent Accountability Panel. Cassandra is Co-Chair of the ACOSS and UNSW Sydney Poverty and Inequality Partnership and a member of Chief Executive Women.

Professor Guyonne Kalb is a Professorial Fellow in the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research at the University of Melbourne. She has a PhD in Econometrics from Monash University. She is a Chief Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course, a Research Fellow at the Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), associate editor for Fiscal Studies and co-editor for The Economic Record.

Her research interests are mainly in the field of applied micro-economics and include labour supply issues, in particular female labour supply; the interaction of labour supply, social security and taxation; labour supply and family policies; and the impact of childcare/parental activities on child development and health. She has numerous publications in national and international journals, such as Journal of Human ResourcesJournal of Health EconomicsHealth EconomicsFeminist EconomicsReview of Economics of the HouseholdEconomics of Education ReviewFiscal Studies and Economic Record. She has been involved in several research projects providing evidence for policy makers, including a number of evaluation studies, such as the evaluation of the Paid Parental Leave scheme and the evaluation of the Try, Test and Learn Fund for the Department of Social Services. She is currently leading the evaluation of the Future Directions strategy, a large social housing policy reform in New South Wales, for the NSW Department of Communities and Justice.

Professor Roger Wilkins is Deputy Director of the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research as well as being Deputy Director (Research) of the HILDA Survey program area. His research interests include the nature, causes and consequences of labour market outcomes; retirement behaviour and outcomes; the distribution and dynamics of individuals’ economic wellbeing; and the incidence and determinants of poverty, social exclusion and welfare dependence. As part of his work in the HILDA Survey program, Roger produces the annual HILDA Survey Statistical Report, which each year analyses the latest release of the HILDA data. Roger is a member of the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Labour Statistics Advisory Group and the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute Research Panel. He is also a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, a Research Fellow at the IZA Institute of Labor Economics, a Fellow of the Global Labor Organisation, and a Fellow of the World Inequality Database.

Professor Miranda Stewart is Director of the Melbourne Centre for Commercial Law and of Taxation Studies at the Melbourne Law School and honorary Professor at the Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University. Miranda was awarded the ATTA Medal in 2023 by the Australasian Tax Teachers Association for services to tax policy. She is an author and editor of several books, including Tax and Government in the 21st Century (Cambridge University Press, 2022), Death and Taxes (with Michael Flynn) and Tax, Social Policy and Gender. Miranda is Vice-Chair of the Permanent Scientific Committee of the International Fiscal Association.

Dr Kathryn James teaches and researches in taxation law and policy with specific expertise in the value added tax (VAT) or goods and services tax (GST). Her research focuses on how ostensibly technical questions of taxation impact upon distributive justice. Kathryn is an ARC Discovery Early Career Research fellow from December 2019 to December 2024 for a project that examines whether Australia Can and Should Reform the GST (DE190100346).

Seminar MC

Peter Mares is an independent writer and researcher. He is a contributing editor at Inside Story magazine, a member of the moderating team at the Cranlana Centre for Ethical Leadership, an adjunct senior research fellow at Monash University’s School of Media, Film & Journalism and a fellow with the Centre for Policy Development. Peter is the author of three books: No Place Like Home: Repairing Australia’s Housing Crisis (Text 2018), Not Quite Australian: how temporary migration is changing the nation (Text, 2016) and Borderline (UNSW Press, 2002), an award-winning analysis of Australia’s approach to refugees and asylum seekers. Peter spent 25 years as a broadcaster with the ABC, presenting national radio programs and working as a foreign correspondent based in Southeast Asia.