11 February 2022

ACT budget bottom line better than forecast

| Lottie Twyford
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chief minister Andrew Barr at a press conference

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the budget position looks promising despite COVID-19 struggles. Photo: Lottie Twyford.

The post-pandemic economic recovery is underway, according to the Chief Minister, who has announced an improved budget deficit position for the December quarter.

The December quarter headline net operating balance was a deficit of $218.8 million compared with a forecast year-to-date budget deficit of $464.3 million.

These improvements to the Territory’s fiscal position gave Chief Minister Andrew Barr cause to be “cautiously optimistic about the year ahead”.

Mr Barr told the Assembly that total revenues were at least $230 million better than forecast.

READ ALSO Barr to maintain government support for recovering economy

An additional $134 million in GST revenue was also recorded, compared to what was projected, and the Territory’s taxation revenue improved by $86.2 million.

The Chief Minister attributed the latter to an improving labour market and increased commercial property market activity which he said reflected strong business confidence about investing in the Territory.

Mr Barr also referred to “recent strong retail trade figures and strong credit card spending data, as well as an increase in the household savings rate” as positive signs the economic recovery has begun.

As foreshadowed by Mr Barr’s opening address to the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday, the government will continue to provide targeted economic support to specific sectors when and where it is needed.

Mr Barr told the Assembly his government is unafraid to invest “public finances to avoid the harsh realities recessionary environments can have on the economic prospects of young people and women”.

Job creation in a diverse range of sectors and industries will remain a priority of the ACT Government.

“It is the role of every government in Australia to create the environments to drive up aggregate demand. It requires us to be bold and to take on more risk,” Mr Barr said.

READ ALSO ACT to change the wording of child sexual assault charges after Tame’s advocacy

Mr Barr also hit out at the Opposition whose economic policies he accused of “flipping between regurgitating their reflex conservative political lines against public spending and debt on some days whilst calling for more government intervention and assistance on others”.

Earlier this week, the Opposition spokesperson for business Leanne Castley put forward a motion calling for an updated economic plan.

Ms Castley said many small businesses weren’t going to survive unless things got back to normal soon and people went out and bought their coffees, lunches and meals at local cafes, pubs and clubs as they had before the pandemic.

However, she wouldn’t say it was time for public servants to return to the office just yet.

“Businesses just want to get back to business,” Ms Castley said.

READ ALSO Greens MLA hits back at Chief Minister: $2000 for an e-bike is a financial burden for some

Ms Castley referenced a recent CommSec State of the States report and the ABS Labour Force report to claim the ACT’s economy was on the downturn, although Minister for Business Tara Cheyne accused her and her fellow Canberra Liberals of simply cherry-picking data to suit their narrative.

“I will leave it to those opposite to continue talking down the ACT’s economy,” Mr Barr said.

“We remain optimistic about the direction of economic activity this year.”

When the 2021-22 ACT Budget was delivered in October last year, a deficit of $951 million was forecast.

Mr Barr warned at the time that while the budget deficit was necessary, there wasn’t a bottomless pit of money, and some major projects such as the stadium and convention centre would need to be pushed back so the budget could eventually be brought under control.

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Not a single mention from Barr about extortionate rates, highest rents, longest hospital waiting times and continued dependence on stamp duty revenue. One of his claimed benefits of higher rates/lower stamp duty was it would help reduce the price of housing and increase housing affordability in the ACT. He should be judged on that. Hasn’t happened. Housing is now less affordable in the ACT than ever before. Barr’s winners are corporate property developers and commision making real estate agents. Ordinary residents and families of Canberra can all forecast that our own personal budget bottom lines will be worse off.

Spot on! Time to move away from this autocratic ideology of this current Government and actually help out Canberrans for a change…..

“Simply cherry-picking data to suit their narrative”…hmmmm something Mr Barr and his (and his mates) ACT Government would never do. Remaining optimistic is good. I continue to remain optimistic after having returned from Queensland in 2005. Still waiting for the good time to roll. Oh look here comes a tram loaded with street sculpture and bundles of poorly thought out legislation, bylaws and additional fees and charges.

HiddenDragon8:15 pm 11 Feb 22

We have seen this movie many times before – it’s almost as if it’s part of the ritual of the ACT budget cycle.

Part way through the fiscal year, the message is hurrah! – the deficit is tracking lower than we forecast a few months ago (i.e. aren’t we the most terrific economic managers ever). Then, by the time the next budget is delivered, the improvement (which is always in the form of a lower deficit, not a surplus which might be used to reduce debt), seen mid-fiscal year, has magically evaporated.

This fascinating phenomenon might just have something to do with the wonderfully self-serving, have your cake and eat it, too, version of Keynesian economics which is practiced by the ACT government under which it is never the right time to have spending lower then revenue – because there is always some compelling, newly discovered, reason to keep pumping up spending. With that being the custom in normal times, it really will be a miracle if the budget trend announced yesterday is still on track by the middle of this year.

Capital Retro5:03 pm 11 Feb 22

better = good
less worse = bad

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. It’s easy to get a Stamp Duty windfall when you don’t reduce the Conveyance tax thresholds in line with Canberra’s annual rates charge increases and the real-time growth in property values.

Combined ACT Government Property related taxes through Rates, Stamp Duty and Land Tax has run at four times CPI since the 2012 changes. An unprecedented growth in property related tax revenue since ACT financial records started with Self Government.

It’s double dipping in anyones language. The Treasury can be surprised at much higher or much lower than expected annual Stamp Duty returns maybe 3 times in 10 years. Not unexpectedly higher Stamp Duty revenue 10 times in 10 years.

It isn’t double dipping in the slightest.

You can’t possibly suggest that the government should have predicted a 30% increase in property values in the last year. No government could or should change rating values based on property price values in real time. It would cause immense problems and guaranteed further complaints.

And i’m betting we won’t hear a peep from you when property prices either stagnate or drop in the coming years once the RBA starts raising interest rates, which is imminent.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, for those who complain about this issue, the answer is simple. Move to make the change to stamp duty quickly and finish the reform package in the next couple of years.

Unfortunately we both know that the same people whinging now would be whinging even more were that to occur.

I haven’t said it before and I won’t say it again. Wow, I agree with you Chewy!!

bj_ACT, why do you relate tax revenue to inflation? Do you imagine that connection is true either at State or Federal levels? Have a look at CPI components vs all taxation sources.

The reform in the ACT is to connect property tax revenue to land asset rents rather than to transactions. Your “four times CPI” is not far behind actual property value increase over the same period. It makes sense. Like chewy, I would prefer if anything that this obviously beneficial reform were completed faster, rather than being paused, halted or wound back as some populists prefer.

Capital Retro6:01 pm 11 Feb 22

Barr stated in October last year that home prices were sky-rocketing.

Just whinging.

I don’t expect a 30% increase in the the Stamp Duty thresholds to match this year. But you can’t keep the thresholds below property price growth and rates increases ‘year in and year out’ for a decade and claim it’s a surprise when you suddenly earn more stamp duty than forecast. It keeps happening over and over again. Even when ACT housing prices stagnated in the Abbot years predicted shortfalls in Stamp Duty came in above Treasury estimates when the final numbers were released.

Property related tax revenue in ACT since the change has grown by more than CPI, population growth and house price growth combined (noting some of the taxes take 3 years to catch up).

As I’ve said in the past (and you agreed with me on this one Chewy), get rid of Stamp Duty faster if you’ve made the decision to move in that direction. But don’t do an artificial switch where the government increases Rates each year but doesn’t reduce Stamp Duty enough to compensate rates growth.

I have no doubt that the government isn’t too unhappy about the extra revenue received but the main reason they don’t move this reform through quicker is because of the whinging and political pain it would cause.

And they can’t reduce the stamp duty rates excessively in a good year becaise there’s no way in hell they could ramp them back up in a good year.

You say it keeps happening again and again. I’m sure the first home buyers who keep getting priced out of the market agree with you. It’s been a very long time since we’ve had any form of real property price reduction.

Chewy. I don’t expect the Government “ to reduce the stamp duty rates excessively in a good year”.

But I expect them to shift them more in line with long term house price movements.

I know you love the new tax model, but surely after 10 years of our arguments you must now concede there’s been some issues in the transition around the threshold levels.

10 years running of higher than expected windfalls would usually tell the Casino something is up.

That’s the point though, they can’t reduce the stamp duty to track house price movements because it would be pro cyclical both when house prices increase and when they drop.

It’s funny that you mention the Casino though when we both know you’re promoting a heads you win, tails they lose scenario.

You would never be here making a call for stamp duties to be increased if property prices dropped.

The only problem with the transition is it’s too slow. But once again, the whingers would never countenance a faster transition because they’re offended in having to pay anything in the first place.

I’m arguing that Stamp Duty needs to drop more and your arguing against that.

You continue to be unable to accept my long held view that the Stamp Duty thresholds have been wrong for many years.

Just how many financial year upon year of ‘unexpected’ tax windfalls will it take for you to accept I’m onto something?

One of the claimed benefits of this tax change was it would help reduce the price of housing and increase housing affordability in the ACT.

Now that’s apparently a negative situation for the tax switch because it will impact the governments Stamp Duty revenue.

According to the online calculators. A million dollar Brisbane home sale pays $31k stamp duty, the same price Canberra home pays $36k in stamp duty. No wonder I claim it’s a furphy.

The Stamp Duty on a $1,000,000 residential home in Melbourne is $55,000.
Imagine how well the ACT budget would look like if AB slugged us they way Dan fleeces Victorians! (Maybe there Rates are cheaper?).

It’d be interesting to know how the ACT budget would look, in the event that the ACT had completed it’s transition from Stamp Duty into increased Rates.
How much would our Rates (and Land Tax) be to replace the current Stamp Duty revenue?

The problem I see with AB’s spend big thinking is that all this expenditure has to be paid for and whether it comes from Stamp Duty or Rates, it still comes out if our pockets.

“Just how many financial year upon year of ‘unexpected’ tax windfalls will it take for you to accept I’m onto something?”

How many years will property price growth significantly exceed CPI?

And I’d love you to answer the alternative position I’ve put, would you be calling for the government to increase stamp duty amounts if property prices fell?

I’m not calling for the ACT government to increase the thresholds in line with last year’s 30% growth. But I expect if they’re going to reduce stamp Duty as promised then they at least need to align them with long term house growth.

You’re worried about the ACT government getting less than expected Stamp Duty for a couple of years after a potential housing crash, but are happy to accept a decade of higher than expected stamp duty windfalls.

I think it should cut both ways.

Interesting you are now happy to cite Victoria who don’t use UAV in their rates calculations (which I’ve long argued with you is a better model). My Sisters Victorian rates are $3000 less than mine per year despite their house being worth more.

As the worlds strongest supporter of new property tax approach, I really thought you would now agree they haven’t got the transition right.

It wasn’t me that referenced Victoria and I dislike their system.

“You’re worried about the ACT government getting less than expected Stamp Duty for a couple of years after a potential housing crash, but are happy to accept a decade of higher than expected stamp duty windfalls”

No, I’m not happy with it. I think the change away from stamp duty should be finished straight away and that will fix the issue you’re talking about. That’s the only major problem with the government’s approach, they haven’t moved fast enough.

But I would also put a lot of the blame for that on the whingers who would use a faster transition as a political weapon.

On your proposal, if I had the choice between attempting to change stamp duty rates based on house price growth or the current situation, the current situation is superior.

If property proces drop or stagnate, you know that there won’t be a peep from anyone saying the government should recoup lost revenue through higher stamp duties.

Peter Bradbury3:02 pm 14 Feb 22

bj_ACT’s central point is spot on. The ACT Government hasn’t reduced the Conveyance Duty (Stamp Duty) tax curve by anywhere near what would be expected ten years into a twenty year program.

In 2021-22, for transactions below $400,000 it is collecting slightly less than would be expected, but it more than makes up for that above that point because the current curve is steeper than the pre tax-reform curve. For example, at $600,000 (about the median settlement value in 2020) stamp duty collected is about 20% above what would be expected, at $1 million it is about 57% above what would be expected.

The Government has engineered the stamp duty tax curve so that element of tax reform is massively revenue positive, and while discounting that curve for the difference between RPPI (Residential Property Price Index) and WPI (Wage Price Index) makes sense that difference is just icing on the cake.

If there had been absolutely no property price inflation the ACT Government would be collecting more than expected at this point.

Have you got a link for those claims? Because it doesn’t seem to agree with what the review of the reform conducted recently found.

Apologies on the Victorian misquote, but we’ve both made that same mistake over the years.

But I still don’t understand how you think the ACT government should move off Stamp Duty faster and then not admonish them for gaming the system by raising rates much faster than they are reducing stamp duty.

Even in the years around 2014-15 when the house prices hardly grew in comparison to other years, the ACT government bagged a 17% increase in Stamp Duty in a single year. How can you defend this.

If median house prices grow at the decade average, there will have to be some extraordinary heavy cuts to the stamp duty thresholds over the next 10 years to meet the 20 years transition time period.

Even if house prices stayed the same for a decade, they’d have to lift the bottom thresholds by hundreds of thousands of dollars. A median house is currently in tax threshold 6 of 7.

We all know that review by paid consultants (who know who butters the bread) had a very limited scope for the review around things like impact on single mothers and it used a micro simulation model that some experts argue didn’t use actual low level ACT property sales and cadastre data (but used ABS data, high level average property data and the tax system settings).

It’s very easy to claim revenue neutrality despite an 80% unprecedented growth in property tax revenue when your model assumes that the Stamp Duty rates and thresholds won’t grow in line with property growth or previous adjustments. As of today every median house would be in the top million dollar property threshold of 2012.

Federal government could claim amazing benefits for Australians if they compared pre GST times using the $50k tax bracket at 49% and sales tax at 21% in comparison to today.

Peter looks like he knows a thing or two about taxation analysis.

Peter Bradbury5:47 pm 14 Feb 22

You will find the relevant tax curves for 2011-12, 2012-13, and 2018-19 as Chart 21 on the last page of this report http://users.tpg.com.au/bradburyp/Analysing_the_Unit-title_Surcharge.pdf which was provided to every ACT MLA (of the time) on 11 February 2020.

The 2021-22 curves are here: http://users.tpg.com.au/bradburyp/Stamp_Duty_tax_curves_2021-22.pdf

If you are doubting my ability to calculate tax curves, feel free to go the the ACT Government webpages that contain budget papers and/or the legislation register, do your own calculations and present them.

By a recent review, do you mean the one by ACT Treasury analysing its own revenue neutrality and which excluded significant elements of tax reform which are all revenue positive.

Yes Peter,
Im referring to the review that was conducted with the oversight of 3 independent external advisers.

What specific elements of tax reform are you claiming were excluded?

Peter Bradbury11:04 pm 14 Feb 22

The external advisers are a close political ally of the government, and two academics from institutions involved in the analysis. Hardly independently independent, nobody from from a welfare body like ACTCOSS for instance. But let us park that.

They were tasked with oversighting a review that was already defined by the ACT Government, they were in effect a quality panel for a government controlled review. But let’s park that as well.

The ACT Treasury and this panel didn’t detect a significant error in the description of the tax system supplied by ACT Treasury despite having the completed report for more than two months. I detected it in five minutes, and reported it. But let us park that, as well.

The ACT Government definition is that tax reform is limited to General Rates, excluding the Unit-title Surcharge. Even the most conservative estimate of the Unit-title Surcharge flips the outcome from revenue negative to revenue positive. Beyond General Rates, Other Rates have increased by 378%, and Land Tax has risen from 5.2% of total tax in 2012-13 to 7.1% in 2021-22 (and budgeted to increase further). Lets park that as well.

Why park all those things, because the stamp duty tax curves speak simply for themselves with no sophisticated analysis or spin. What is entirely clear from those tax curves is that the ACT Government is collecting more stamp duty than would be expected. Only two things can flow from there:
1- tax reform is revenue positive on that alone, or
2- the Government is also feeding that overcollection into Rates, turbo-charging revenue positiveness by double dipping (and there is evidence of this).

Great insight Peter. Good to hear from someone who knows and understands these things. I had a similar issue back in the late 90s with the Federal department of Treasury before the GST was introduced. They didn’t believe an unanticipated tax issue would arise or a calculation error I raised. They later quietly said to me personally that I was found to be correct and it was a multi billion dollar error.

Even I’m guilty of knowing how to angle consultancy reports to suit the requestor.

As a member of Joe public, You often have to read between the lines or understand what the report has conveniently left out. Get it wrong as a consultancy and you won’t get a look in on the next tender opportunity.

and it could easily be asserted that you are a political opponent of the government because you disagree with them. But I agree with you that we should park that issue because it’s irrelevant to the discussion.

I also agree with you that we should park the other issues you raise because I think it’s perfectly reasonable for the government to limit it’s assessment to General rates because that is the core of the tax reform we are discussing.

If you want to argue that the government is taxing too highly or that they have increased taxes in other areas, then I would fully agree with you. In fact, I’ve argued it many times here. A simpler tax system makes also makes it easier to prosecute that argument and get others to understand it, which is why I would always support such measures and I think the government is failing on that in a number of areas.

So if we have parked all those issues, your fundamental claim is that the tax curves speak for themselves. But they don’t. You’re simply making your own assumptions as to what the policy settings “should” be under the counterfactual that Treasury investigated and freely admitted that could be viewed in different ways. So it may be your opinion that they are double dipping but that’s only correct if you make certain assumptions on what the alternative policies would look like.

And so once again I come back to the main point, if people think that the government is expanding it’s taxation revenue in this area too fast or double dipping with both stamp duties and rates, they should be promoting that the taxation reform package is completed faster than the planned 20 years

Peter Bradbury12:09 pm 16 Feb 22

Since you unparked one aspect and drove it around the block. Yes, the government is entitled to move tax from Stamp Duty to General Rates, we would expect that be revenue neutral, and the government committed to doing that. But it comes with an onus on government to provide acceptable proof that it has stayed within those boundaries, “trust us we are from the government” just doesn’t cut it. The easiest thing for a government to do would be to make that analysis precisely neutral and throw tax burden elsewhere.

You also missed an important aspect, the analytical boundary that has been drawn is around Stamp Duty and something less than General Rates.

On the main discussion, the tax curves for the years indicated are not assumptions but direct calculations of the legislated tax rates. The basic ‘Expected’ curves are direct calculations of the (pre-reform) 2011-12 legislated tax rates reduced by a factor relevant to the particular year, so ten years into a twenty-year program, 10/20. You may call that an assumption, if so, it is the baseline assumption.

The government could choose to legislate a 2021-22 tax curve that is different from the baseline assumption, but it must be revenue neutral in comparison to the baseline. That is why the curves I presented speak for themselves, because the legislated tax curves are nowhere near the Expected 10/20.

The government could also choose to be less than halfway through a twenty year program, but it should be transparent about that (I see no evidence). And it should also have fed less into Rates.

Bj’s original point was that the government hadn’t decreased the tax settings for stamp duty by enough to meet what would be expected, and what it committed to. That is borne out by evidence.

Peter. You’ll have to learn that Chewy has perfected his Riotact technique in asking for data or links after you make a point and when you send it through he ignores the main story and comments on a side issue of the data. I’ll admit he’s good at it.

Even an 80% hike in property taxes since the tax reform hasn’t been enough for him to think twice about a policy that he questions even less than it’s own architect Ted Quinlan and the former head of ACT Treasury. (Note that the 80% increase will be even worse when this budget is released and the house price growth starts to flow through).

Chewy will never change his mind about something he supports, no matter the data you present. But I reckon you made some key points in your tax system analysis.

Yes I’m glad we agree that you’ve made your own assumptions on where the government “should” be in respect to its program, which is my point. You can call it the “baseline” assumption if you want but the government has the freedom to make the transition and their own assumptions as to what the alternative future would have been if they didn’t start the reform package.

As you say, if they commit to revenue neutrality, they should provide evidence of that and they have. You just don’t agree with the underlying assumptions they’ve made in their analysis as to what the counterfactual “should” be.

It goes to the fundamental question of what is “expected”? You are assuming one position, they have provided another. And it’s in their own report that the outcome can change dependent on this.

As none of us live in the alternate universe where the reform package wasn’t introduced, it can’t truly be tested because the government is always able to decide what they mean by their own policy settings and commitments.

Which is why I’ve had these arguments with BJ before. He can’t get that I don’t agree they are “double dipping” because the government sets the rules of their own policies.

It’s why I also think they should make the transition faster to fix the underlying issue and reduce the ability of the government to change policy outcomes by stealth.

As above, I agree that a strong argument can be made that the Government is taxing too highly and is receiving more revenue that I think is necessary to provide the services they should deliver.

But I don’t agree thats because they haven’t decreased the tax settings around stamp duty enough for what you “expect”.

I don’t always agree with Chewy, but for what it is worth I believe the points he has made are spot on.

The government does set the rules through policy. They have taken these rules to a couple of elections and still managed to remain in power.

The only true way to “fix” this issue now is to get the transition over and done with. But of course that wouldn’t be palatable to those that have already paid stamp duty and have no intention of moving. And some of the most vocal opponents seem to be in the age where they paid stamp duty 30-40 years ago and still expect somehow that that is enough.

Yes JC you don’t always agree with Chewy, but you do always agree with the ACT Government’s approach on these big ticket issues.

“Even an 80% hike in property taxes since the tax reform hasn’t been enough for him to think twice about a policy “

What did you expect was going to happen?

The fact is the electorate has now had 3 opportunities to vote on it as a policy, as part of the broader package that parties put up. It is way past a point of letting it go – rightly or wrongly, it is the policy setting that will continue to be progressed until such time as there is a change of government. Don’t like it, then vote for someone else, and inform others to do the same. Like the tram (stage 1) – good decision, bad decision – it has been made.

And Chewy is spot on about the counterfactual issue – we can all come up with whatever we want for that ‘baseline’, and build a case around said claims. It is not provable to be right, wrong or otherwise. In that respect, its pointless arguing forever about something that has no objective truth to it in any form.

I’m guessing you don’t have a background in economics or tax modelling JS9. Determining ‘baselines’ based on various factors such as population growth, housing values, demand curves, tax simulation options, coefficients, etc etc is exactly what you do. Everyone knows we can’t run alternative universes. That’s hardly a valid argument for any analysis and Trump was the last person I heard use it.

Not even ACT Treasury people or the ‘independent’ consultants evaluating the new tax model argue the things some of you guys raise. You have to believe the data not the political rhetoric thats followed the shift.

As I’ve highlighted on here many times, I support the shift to the new property tax model. I just think the ACT government has got the transition wrong and is overly slugging many Canberra property owners, renters and business tenants unequally.

Bj, you are right that is what baselines are. But you miss the point that chewy was making and that is the baseline used in Peters modeling were baselines set by Peter.

Just like government sets their own baselines.

Peter Bradbury3:10 pm 18 Feb 22

You are misrepresenting my assumption as relating to the measurement of revenue neutrality, that it competes with one underlying the ACT Government’s presented method. My assumptions are not related to revenue neutrality, but tax reform implementation and related tax curves.

The implementation plan (2012) in relation to the taxes being moved into Rates says:

(1) Duty on general and life insurance policies will be abolished over the next five years. The tax on general insurance and life insurance policies will be reduced by 20 per cent every year from 2012-13.

(2) A phase out of duty on conveyances will commence. The marginal tax rates will be adjusted every year to progressively reduce the duty. The changes will apply to both the residential and commercial sectors.

As you can see the government hasn’t specified its assumption any further than “progressively”, so it is not unreasonable to assume the central case of one-twentieth over 20 years for stamp duty, this mirrors the more explicit insurance duty plan.

No assumption that fits the plan leads to what we see in 2021-22, stamp duty budgeted to increase to $351m, 31% above 2011-12.

In recent years it hasn’t even been reducing marginal tax rates.

On revenue neutrality, the government identified four methods (with counterfactuals), but it presented only one, the most generous. It was roundly condemned as not meeting community definitions of neutral and required the invention of a new label “broadly revenue neutral overall”. Generous because it allows the stamp duty counterfactual to increase without constraint over 20 years, and that presents that method’s greatest problem, it is totally inconsistent with the implementation plan described by the government which constrains stamp duty.

That it didn’t present the other three methods indicates they showed tax reform as revenue positive.

Peter I’m afraid you’ll have no luck trying to explain data to people who don’t really want to know that it shows lower priced properties pay a higher ‘percentage’ in taxes, than higher value properties (which is the exact opposite of a progressive tax system and the opposite of Federal Income tax rates). You’ll have no luck explaining that your approach means it doesn’t matter what the actual property values or benchmarks are over the time period, it’s just a simple curve that shows the tax becoming regressive along the property value axis.

You might have more luck persuading anti vaxers to have a Covid shot.

I do find it hilarious that you studiously ignore and avoid the clear explanations that have been given to you because it doesn’t fit your position.

Nothing in Peter’s last comment contradicts anything I’ve said. There’s no objective truth in his comments, just subjective opinion.

Peter even admits this when he claims “it’s not unreasonable” to make the assumptions he has. Well yes, it isn’t unreasonable I agree, but the government’s assessed position isn’t “unreasonable” either. He’s simply presenting his own position based on what he thinks should have happened.

But seeing as the ALP are in charge of their own policies and have won multiple elections since bringing in this policy, it becomes very hard for you (or Peter) to argue they are wrong. It’s very much a heads they win, tails you lose situation.

Of course, no doubt you’ll ignore this again to keep banging your drum. I might have more luck persuading JC that the light rail project was a bad idea, than getting you to agree to the points raised here.

Chewy. Your the one going on about baselines and that it’s impossible to measure these things without an alternative universe. Peter and I are providing data that shows an element of the tax change has become regressive not progressive and that property related taxes have grown at an unprecedented level since 2012 (even in the years when property values were pretty stagnant).

You’re guilty of ignoring the key issues and doing exactly what you claim others are doing. I have a track record on this site of admitting errors or changing my mind in a well reasoned argument on this site. You have a track record of intransigency and false dilemmas.

Hilarious that you claim to have a track record of admitting errors whilst studiously refusing to understand (deliberate or not) the error of your argument here and the position that others have put to you.

You may have a reasonable point about an overtaxing government but that’s never been something I’ve disagreed with.

And nothing you or Peter have shown contradicts anything I’ve argued.

You want to claim that the government’s tax reform has increased taxation revenue at an unprecedented level but don’t want to consider the alternative policy direction without the reform which would have also seen “unprecedented” increases in revenue in this area due to the massive increases in property prices.

Which as I’ve always said is why the reform should be finished as quickly as possible.

If you want to talk about the old system. Previous jumps in property prices before the property tax reform were met with solid adjustments to the Stamp Duty tax thresholds by the ACT government to compensate for the housing price growth.

I don’t see why it should be any different now. Especially when the government claims to be halfway through their transition.

You want the transition from Stamp Duty done quicker, but then you argue against reducing the tax. You love walking both sides of the street on this tax reform.

The weird thing is I always thought you’d be onboard for this tax threshold issue around stamp duty as it relates to making the transition more equitable and not just a tax grab.

You still seem to not be understanding what I’m arguing.

What I would prefer happens and what actually is happening are two different things.

My preference is that the change happens quicker and that overall taxation is lower. I think this government wastes enormous amounts of its revenue on services that aren’t needed or could be provided more efficiently.

So if the government did lower the tax thresholds as you want, I wouldn’t be against it.

What I’m actually arguing is that in not doing so, the government isn’t double dipping. They are implementing their own reform policy, which they’ve taken to multiple elections and they’ve provided solid evidence that they’re following that policy. Of course as they set the rules of that policy, they get to decide how it’s implemented and what it means.

There’s no doubt that they’re using the massive increases in property prices to receive more revenue. But that action exists outside of the reform, they would likely have done it anyway, even though none of us can actually know that.

Stamp duties and rates combined more than doubled during the decade of high property price growth during the late 90s, 2000s. And they are close to that in the last decade too. I don’t think the government is behaving any different than they always have.

The difference between the 2000s pre tax reform change you highlight, was that property related tax increases for the ACT were growing at or around the average in comparison to all other States and Territories.

However, Since the tax reform change our total rates, stamp duty, land tax revenue take has outstripped the other states and is running well above the Australian average.

The ABS taxation revenue data by State shows the ACT outstripping the others over the period from 2012-13 to 2020. We’ve grown our property taxes 20% more than NSW, 25% more than QLD and 60% more than SA.

Your theory on the reform suggests that switching away from Stamp Duty (as we have started to do) should make our property tax growth more stable and not prone to property sale tax spikes, but why then is our property tax take growing faster than NSW who experienced slightly greater property value growth over the ABS period?

We should be tracking better and stabilising our tax take more than the States who primarily rely on stamp duty, if the switch was delivering on its promises why are things getting worse?

The key reason is ACT rates have increased at five times the percentage amount of NSW, but our stamp duty take has only dropped by 30% over the period since the tax reform started.

How is any of that relevant to my point?

The ACT government doesn’t have to follow other states on taxation. The other state governments have a much greater ability to raise revenue in other areas, compared to the ACT’s narrow taxation base, so it’s hardly surprising that the government focuses on the areas it does have control in.

“Your theory on the reform suggests that switching away from Stamp Duty (as we have started to do) should make our property tax growth more stable and not prone to property sale tax spikes, but why then is our property tax take growing faster than NSW who experienced slightly greater property value growth over the ABS period?”

It’s not a theory, it’s verifiably correct, you can look at the data yourself.
The government get to choose what the growth rate in our taxes are and take their policies to elections. Whether you like that or not, that is what they’ve done repeatedly and won.

“Stabilising our tax take” doesn’t mean it doesn’t grow.

I didn’t say property related revenue shouldn’t grow, but it’s grown way more than the other states since the ACT tax change. It’s also proved to be less stable than NSW because we aren’t reducing stamp duty to compensate for the rates growth.

I’ve just been reliably informed that NATSEM who did the paid modelling for the ACT government property tax review have changed their findings on some of the key things we’ve been discussing.

In their unpaid submission into the federal parliamentary enquiry on the case for shifting from stamp duty to rates NATSEM have apparently now said….

There’s been a transitional problem in the way the ACT has made the switch from stamp duty to rates and that there’s better alternative approaches.

NATSEM now think it’s possible there’s been an offsetting rise in house prices when stamp duty is reduced (anyone who’s bought at Auction knows higher or lower Stamp Duty is simply factored into the overall price that you’re willing and able to pay for a property).

NATSEM are now unclear on the progressiveness of the tax system switch. Something Peter highlighted in his analysis.

I promise you Chewy this wasn’t a setup to get to this point. A learned colleague saw this Riotact chain and called me with the details.

Got a link?

I’ve read the NATSEM submission to the federal inquiry on Tax and housing affordability from September last year where they don’t say anything like what you’re claiming. In fact the opposite.


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