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The Efficiency of State Taxes

Robert Albon

Australian Economic Review, 1997, vol. 30, issue 3, 273-287

Abstract: The states have increased their share of national revenue from about 16 per cent in the late 1980s to over 20 per cent. This shift may not have improved the efficiency of raising national taxation revenue. Eight taxes with total revenue in 1995–96 of $26.5 billion are considered. In order of revenue these are payroll tax, business franchise taxes, stamp duties, gambling taxes, government business enterprise taxes, financial institutions taxes, land tax and mineral taxes. Business franchise taxes fall on a few items of consumption that are already taxed heavily by the Commonwealth. Financial taxes and stamp duties are suspect because they are transactions taxes, not taxing economic activity directly. Two important state taxes—on payrolls and on land—have badly fractured bases. The pressure on the states to raise more revenue is continuing. In meeting their revenue requirements efficiently the short‐term solution lies in substantial reforms of existing taxes, including repairing the bases of the payroll and land taxes, and removal or reduction of the least efficient ones. The longer term solution lies in the states having access to broader based taxes, particularly consumption.

Date: 1997
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