2018 Spring - Tax and regulation for farm business sustainability

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FPJ1503E - Miller, D & Shaw, A (2018), Tax policy considerations for Australian agriculture

FPJ1503E - Miller, D & Shaw, A (2018), Tax policy considerations for Australian agriculture, in Farm Policy Journal, vol. 15, no. 3, Spring 2018, pp. 9-23, Surry Hills, Australia.

Australian agriculture is a notably volatile industry from the environmental and market perspectives. It is in the nation’s interest to have a continually improving tax system that delivers taxes that are ‘lower, simpler and fairer’ and this paper contains some principles and perspectives on what needs to be considered by governments in delivering this outcome in an agricultural context.
While agriculture pays relatively low rates of tax compared to other sectors, this should be viewed in the context of the extensive secondary economic activity built on the sector and low levels of public funding support, relative to the global landscape.
Individual primary producers have limited capacity to pass on increased tax burdens to their customers and largely absorb these costs, detracting from their capacity to lift employment, productivity and profitability. A fairer taxation system should also consider the intersection between the tax and transfer system and should provide a welfare safety net with appropriate assets and means tests that do not act against efforts of primary producers to be self-reliant.
This paper will outline several principles concerning the taxation of agriculture, with a focus on Queensland’s broadacre agriculture sector, and provide commentary on some of the specific agriculturally-relevant elements of the current tax system.
For the future viability and sustainability of agricultural enterprises and of rural, regional and remote communities, it is important that their unique features and needs are considered and incorporated effectively into any reformed taxation system.

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