The SMSF Association has identified several issues with the current measurement of super tax concessions by Treasury and has criticised the estimates for “distorting public debate”.
In a submission to the Tax and Revenue Inquiry, SMSFA chief executive Andrea Slattery said the large estimates of forgone revenue to the government from tax concessions “leads to a simplistic observation that lower tax concessions would provide a substantial revenue gain to the government”.
"It's our contention that more scrutiny is needed when looking at the numbers, as well as considering alternative estimates of the super tax concessions cost to Government, to promote a better quality debate around this critical issue,” said Ms Slattery.
SMSFA said there were four key issues with the current Tax Expenditure Statement (TES) process, including the use of a comprehensive tax benefit, the lack of behavioural change factored into estimates and the misuse and misinterpretation of the estimates.
The submission also stated that the estimates do not account for the long-term benefits of the super tax concessions, such as reducing government expenditure on the age pension.
"To improve the TES costing of super tax concessions we suggest that Treasury undertake alternative estimates using a different tax benchmark, as well as factoring in the long-term savings it brings to Government,” said Ms Slattery.
The comprehensive tax benchmark currently used by TES was first established in the early 20th century when tax concessions were less prevalent and the tax system simpler, she said.
“Our compulsory super system was introduced in 1992 as the primary vehicle for retirement savings, and tax concessions are integral to a system that asks people to forgo the use of income today to have an adequate income in their post working lives,” she said.
"We need a current benchmark and measurement to more accurately measure our current superannuation and retirement system in Australia.”
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