Australia’s wealthiest 5 per cent of taxpayers are set to receive a $7000 tax cut, after the Turnbull government’s income tax bill passed through the Senate with the help of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation.
Everyone who currently pays tax will be financially better-off as a result of the new legislation, although the difference will not be huge for lower- and middle-income taxpayers.
The vast majority of Australian taxpayers will save a little over $500 a year as a result of the cuts – just about enough for a return flight from Melbourne or Sydney to Hobart on Tigerair, and a couple of nights in the Hobart Travelodge.
The nation’s highest income earners, meanwhile, will save more than $7000 a year – enough for return flights to London with Qantas, and five nights at the Ritz.
The figures below are Treasury’s estimates for 2024-25, when the tax cuts will be fully implemented.
The three-stage tax cuts will take seven years to be fully implemented, at an estimated cost to the budget of $144 billion over 10 years.
The most controversial – and expensive – element in the bill is the abolition of the 37 per cent tax bracket.
This will make Australia’s income tax system much less progressive than that of comparable countries, and will grant everyone earning more than $200,000 a year a $7225 tax cut.
This part of the legislation is projected to cost the budget about $11 billion a year.
Someone on the median income of $53,000 a year, meanwhile, will receive a tax cut of just $540 a year – one-13th the size of the tax cut of someone on $200,000.
It’s this element of the bill that Labor opposed most vehemently, and which it has promised to repeal if it wins the next election.
However, Labor would keep in place the ‘low- and middle-income tax offset’.
This sees everyone earning between $48,000 and $90,000 a year receiving a tax rebate of exactly $530 in the first year, going up to $540 later.
After $90,000 it will taper down, reaching $0 at just over $125,000 a year.
Taxpayers will receive their first rebates at the end of the next financial year, in mid-2019.
People earning between $87,000 and $90,000 will receive an additional tax cut next year, thanks to an adjustment of the 37 per cent tax bracket lower threshold.
As for higher-income earners, the tax cuts are much more substantial, but won’t come into effect in full until the 2024-25 tax year.
By 2025, someone earning $120,000 a year will pay $2025 less in income tax. Someone on $150,000 a year will pay $3375 less.
Someone on $200,000 or more, meanwhile, will pay $7225 less income tax.
Altogether, the measures aimed at those earning more than $90,000 a year – that’s just under 4 million people, and less then a third of Australian taxpayers – will cost the budget an estimated $78 billion over 10 years.
The bill, and Labor’s stance
As laid out below, the bill is divided into three stages, with a total of seven different measures.
Labor supported the first stage, aimed at low- and middle-income earners, but opposed the second two stages, on the grounds they were unaffordable and unfair.
Treasurer Scott Morrison justified the cuts to higher-income earners on the grounds they already shoulder a much larger part of the tax burden.
Earlier this week, Labor leader Bill Shorten said he would repeal the two latter stages if Labor were to win the next federal election, due some time before mid-2019.
- July 1, 2018 – introduce ‘low- and middle-income tax offset’, a tax rebate of up to $530 a year for people earning less than $125,333 a year
- Cost of Stage 1 over 10 years: $16 billion
- July 1, 2018 – increase the top threshold of the 32.5 per cent tax bracket from $87,000 to $90,000
- July 1, 2022 – increase the low-income tax offset
- July 1, 2022 – increase the top threshold of the 19 per cent tax bracket from $37,000 to $41,000
- July 1, 2022 – increase the top threshold of the 32.5 per cent tax bracket from $90,000 to $120,000
- Cost of Stage 2 over 10 years: $86 billion
- July 1, 2024 – increase the top threshold of the 32.5 per cent tax bracket from $120,000 to $200,000, abolishing the 37 per cent bracket altogether
- July 1, 2024 – increase the threshold at which the 45 per cent tax bracket applies from $180,000 to $200,000
- Cost over 10 years of stage 3: $42 billion