With the release of the Federal Budget announcement on 3 May, KPMG leaders share their reactions and provide insights into the major implications for Australian business, industries and sectors.
Corporate tax and anti-avoidance
David Linke, National Managing Partner, Tax
We welcome the proposed reduction in the corporate tax rate to 25 percent but transitioning it over an eleven-year period is likely to result in Australia falling further behind the tax rates of other capital-importing countries.
Increased foreign investment is particularly important for our living standards in the future. It cannot be stated often enough that a significant portion of the benefit of a reduction in the company tax rate flows through to higher real wages. This measure will ultimately give businesses greater incentive to invest.
The new anti-avoidance measure – together with anti-hybrid rules, a new transparency regime and whistle-blower rules, and additional ATO cash to scrutinise multinationals - reflects the current politics of multinational business taxation, both in Australia and abroad.
All-in-all, what has been lost in the Federal Government’s economic plan is the opportunity for grand tax reform including a review of consumption taxation. One cannot see this happening for at least 5 years and possibly a decade. This is what we truly need.
On bracket creep, the government has gone with an adjustment to one bracket so that someone on average full time earnings does not creep into the second highest bracket. While this is welcome, more fundamental reform to the personal tax and transfer system needs to be undertaken.
Dana Fleming, Head of Superannuation, Tax
We strongly support the government’s measures to allow those with broken work records, often women, to make top-up payments. This is a very fair and important move which will go some way to ensuring those individuals have a decent retirement package. Retaining the Low Income Super Contribution for low earners and allowing tax deductions for all contributions into superannuation are also welcome.
Capping the balance in the retirement phase of the fund to $1.6 million, while allowing any excess to be retained in the accumulation fund, also strikes the appropriate balance.
It was inevitable that such changes would be funded by paring back some current concessions – bringing down the 30 percent tax threshold from $300,000 to $250,000 seems to strike a reasonable balance between equity and incentives for people to fund their own retirement.
Paul Foxlee, National Sector Leader, Transport & Infrastructure
The ongoing use of concessional loans signals the government's appetite to explore new methods for funding infrastructure, especially transport and economic infrastructure projects of national significance. Against this backdrop, the approaches outlined in the Smart Cities Plan, which are focused on incentive-based funding structures such as City Deals and on technology, are good news and look set to drive investment in the future.
Paul Van Bergen, R&D Incentives Tax Partner
The Budget contained some welcome news for innovative Australian companies:
The economic outlook
KPMG Chief Economist Brendan Rynne
Tonight’s Budget has seen a clear intent to reinvigorate investment by the business sector by phasing in a cut in corporate tax rates. This change to the corporate tax rate will stimulate investment, most likely foreign investment, lifting productivity and real wages, and reducing unemployment as flow-on consequences.
This is much-needed – in the absence of stimulus like this, we expect Australia’s economy to achieve only sanguine growth over the next few years, predominately as a consequence of declining net investment activity following the boom years of the commodity super cycle. Non-mining investment has not picked up, which has meant the declining mining investment has in fact been a drag on economic growth. These concerns are obviously also worrying the Reserve Bank of Australia, who only today has cut the official cash rate down to 1.75 percent - the lowest on record.
Domestically, Treasury is now forecasting the Australian economy will grow by 2.5 percent in real terms in each of 2015/16 and 2016/17, increasing marginally to around 3.0 percent for the remainder of the forward estimates period. Since MYEFO, Treasury now see:
Tonight’s Budget also reveals that the Commonwealth Treasury is less optimistic about global economic conditions than they were 6 months ago, which is consistent with the IMF and World Bank, who have also recently downgraded their expectations of world growth. Concerns about the state of the Chinese economy, particularly debt bubble worries, European instability driven in part by the possible exit from the EU by Britain, and a softening in the US economy, have all collectively added to the uncertainty as to the short to medium term outlook for the world economy.