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Paying for Zero: Cost of managing tax affairs

July 02, 2017

Paying for Zero: Cost of managing tax affairs

Matt Grudnoff, The Australia Institute (June 2017). The Labor party has announced a policy to limit the deduction that can be claimed for managing your tax affairs to $3,000. The complexity of the tax system means that some people are spending large amounts of money on accounting advice to take advantage of tax loopholes to significantly reduce their taxable income. They can then reduce their disposable income further by deducting the cost of this advice. Extreme examples of this have emerged where people earning considerable amounts of money are claiming more than a million dollars for the management of their tax affairs.

This paper will look at who is likely to be impacted by this policy.

About 47% of those submitting a tax return claim a deduction for expenses incurred in managing their tax affairs. While the average (mean) amount that people deducted was $378 the median was much lower at just $165. A large difference between the average and median indicates that a small minority are claiming considerably larger amounts than the average. This minority are dragging up the average.

Those in Liberal Party electorates located in Australia’s largest cities claimed larger amounts for managing their tax affairs. Liberal electorates made up nine of the top 10 electorates for this deduction. These electorates also had a larger percentage of people claiming the deduction.