Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has disputed claims that he has suspended work on the Abbott government’s Tax White Paper.
Bureaucrats at the federal Treasury, the Tax White Paper Taskforce and the Board of Taxation were last week told work on the white paper would come to a complete halt, Fairfax Media claimed yesterday.
"We were told to put everything on ice, and that a 'reset' on tax reform was taking place," one senior executive is said to have told Fairfax.
However, Mr Turnbull has since disputed these claims via social media.
“We have not stopped work on the tax white paper – quite the contrary, as I said earlier in the week tax reform is at the centre of our efforts to make Australia a more innovative, productive and prosperous economy,” Mr Turnbull said on his official Facebook page.
From his Twitter account, Mr Turnbull said of the Fairfax reports that “this story is not true”.
The government released its tax discussion paper in March this year after several months’ delay. A green paper was expected to be released before the end of 2015, making way for the final white paper in the first half of 2016.
Under the Abbott government, concerns were beginning to surface that the Tax White Paper process would be watered down in an attempt to secure political capital.
“The Treasury department don’t have a lot of political capital to get through so they might shy away from making some of the more difficult decisions or at the very least kick them into the long grass until a second term, if they win a second term,” H&R Block’s director of tax communications, Mark Chapman, told SMSF Adviser in early August this year.
In February this year, the Institute of Public Accountants’ senior tax adviser, Tony Greco, told SMSF Adviser the Tax White Paper might be seen as “too aggressive” to release amid the leadership crisis that Mr Abbott was then facing.
“What we thought would be very wide and encompassing might be not be as wide and encompassing and then we fall into the dilemma of the Henry Review in that things like GST were excluded," Mr Greco said.
“I think politicians might be a little bit gun-shy in going to the public and saying what should be said. So we’re in this dilemma now of what are the politicians going to do? Do they want to risk political capital by stating the obvious? I think [the white paper] will be a casualty of the politics," he said.
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