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Tax stoush no substitute for real reform

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Hold on to your calculators, folks; it’s income tax tables at 20 paces this election as Labor and the Coalition go head to head over their rival tax plans.

There are few issues that go more directly to the heart of our democracy than taxation. Who pays what in taxes directly shapes the fabric of our society.

Illustration: Matt DavidsonCredit:

Tax is literally the price we pay to sustain our democratic system of government and all that goes with it, such as schools, hospitals and roads.

Unfortunately, our system of taxation also happens to be so mind-bogglingly complex that most voters would rather not have to think about it too much.

So, let me fill you in.

In reality, neither side is covering themselves in glory when it comes to tax reform.

The Coalition has accused Labor of imposing $387 billion in new taxes, based on Treasury modelling of policies that, while bearing a striking resemblance to some of Labor’s policies, are not, in fact, Labor's official policies.

Labor rejects the precise figure, but the main point is fair: if elected, Labor would be the higher-taxing and higher-spending government – however reluctant it is to admit it.

For its part, Labor insists all its policies have been costed by the independent Parliamentary Budget Office, although it refuses to release official costings until later in the campaign, particularly after Treasury has released........

© The Age