Treasurer Scott Morrison has ratcheted up his calls for Labor to support a major cut to the corporate tax rate, saying Australia must “catch up” with the US.
But he also said the government had no plans to raise the goods and services tax (GST) to make up the lost revenue.
The Turnbull government has been attempting to slash the corporate tax rate from 30 per cent to 25 per cent since 2016, but has been prevented from doing so by Labor and the cross bench in the Senate.
Mr Morrison’s renewed call for Labor to support the cut came after US President Donald Trump succeeded in legislating a massive cut to the US federal corporate tax rate from 35 per cent to 21 per cent.
Following this tax cut, a number of US businesses – most prominently Apple and Walmart – responded with promises of pay rises, investment, and in Apple’s case repatriation of profits from overseas tax havens.
Mr Morrison said he had “great faith” in Australian businesses, but they needed to be “supported with the right policies”.
That, he said, meant legislating to bring the corporate tax rate down from 30 per cent to 25 per cent.
“We are already seeing the dramatic impacts in the United States of the changes to their tax rates for businesses in America,” Mr Morrison said.
“We have the opportunity, now, to catch up. We had the opportunity before to get ahead. As a result of the obstruction from the Labor Party, we were unable to do that.
“Now we have to pass these tax cuts to ensure our businesses can compete and continue to create the jobs they were so successful in creating in 2017.”
He said 2018 was a “year of economic opportunity for Australians”.
Business has also reaffirmed its support for the tax cut, with prominent CEOs, including Qantas’ Alan Joyce and Wesfarmers Rob Scott, saying a tax cut could result in more investment in the Australian economy.
Responding to Mr Morrison’s comments on Sky News on Monday, Acting Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers said: “We’ve got a very tight budget and in those circumstances it makes very little sense to shower $65 billion on the biggest multinationals and big banks in this country at the same time as people who are working in middle Australia are being asked to cop a tax increase.
“And that’s the recipe that Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison have for this country – tax breaks for multinationals and millionaires and making everyone else pay more income tax.”