Consultation in Business Tax Reform: Towards an Effective Tax Policy Network
EXECUTING AUSTRALIA'S INCOME TAX: THERE MUST BE A BETTER WAY, Graeme Cooper, ed., Australian Tax Research Foundation, Forthcoming
Australian Tax Research Foundation Conference, 2006
38 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2008
The Australian government has in recent years paid increased attention to consultation in business tax reform, in line with trends in other areas of regulation. In 2007, the Board of Taxation released a report, Improving Australia's Tax Consultation System. Consultation is generally seen to be a "good thing" but a conceptual framework to describe and analyse consultation processes is lacking. This chapter seeks to provide that framework. It argues that we can best understand business tax consultation processes using the concept of a policy network, developed by political and organisational theorists to analyse modes of governance that extend beyond the formal boundaries of government. The chapter focuses on the specialized process of business tax consultation as a subset of tax reform more generally. All Australians have a stake in an effective and fair business tax system. However, the technical nature of corporate and international business tax means that the detailed policy, legislative drafting, interpretation and administrative systems are only comprehensible and of direct interest to a small section of the public, or of the bureaucratic, professional, academic and business community. The business tax policy network comprises the Treasurer and Treasury; the Board of Taxation and the ATO; tax professional and business associations; international organisations and individual experts. Consultation, advisory bodies, committees and reviews are formal ways in which this network operates. It also operates in informal ways. This chapter first explains the concept of a policy network in a new era of regulatory governance. It surveys current modes of business tax consultation and recent reviews of consultation in Australia, describes the tax policy network and examines the key participants. It considers the role of consultation in the network through a brief discussion of some recent examples of business tax reform. Finally, it identifies problems and considers the Board's 2007 recommendations in light of this analysis.
Keywords: policy network, tax, business, Australia, reform
JEL Classification: K34
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation