The House of Representatives Economics Committee invited Research Australia to make a submission to its inquiry into Tax Deductibility. The Inquiry’s terms of reference from the Treasurer are to investigate broadening the tax base and lowering the tax rate by identifying existing tax deductions that can be removed. Research Australia’s submission addressed the question of fairness when considering the removal of tax deductions that are of particular importance to some groups of taxpayers, and the use of deductions to provide incentives for particular expenditures. Research Australia’s submission focused on the tax deduction for self education expenses (important to the many researchers who are responsible for their own ongoing education) and the tax deductibility of donations to charities, including many not for profit health and medical research organisations.
Research Australia has responded to the National Tax Review Discussion Paper. Research Australia’s members are drawn from across the not for profit, government and corporate sectors. As a consequence Research Australia’s submission necessarily addresses a number of different aspects of the tax system but a common theme is the role that the tax system can play in promoting Australian health and medical research and improving the health and wellbeing of Australians. Research Australia recommends incentives to support investment in small, innovative research intensive companies, the continuation of the tax deduction for self education expenses, continuing concessions for not for profit organisations and charities, and reform of alcohol taxes to improve their effectiveness in reducing alcohol related harm.
The May 2013 discussion paper released by Treasury proposes a $2000 cap on the tax deduction for self education expenses. In the health and medical research sector, where many researchers are forced to meet the cost of a range of expenses associated with work themselves, this proposal will have a significant adverse effect on health and medical research in Australia. Research Australia’s submission opposes the proposal.
UPDATE: The Government has subsequently withdrawn the proposal to impose a cap on self education expenses.