In this article penned by David "Kochie" Koch, Peter Costello has given himself 5 weeks to look at ways to reform our horrible tax legislation.
In it, Koch takes a swipe at Costello for even suggesting that 5 weeks is enough time for a serious review.
I have to say that I agree with Koch, here.
5 weeks is an appallingly short timeframe to fix what is some of the silliest legislation in the world.
Lets look at some facts on the our beloved tax laws.
The Income Tax Assessment Act is not one, but two acts of parliament - one from 1936 and one from 1997.
Together, these two acts total over 10,000 pages.
Not including Tax Rulings made by the ATO or the case law interpreting the Acts.
Wikipedia points out that the laws themselves have been amended that many times, that there is actually a sub-sub-sub-sub-section in the ITAA 36 that is denoted as Section 221YHAAC(2)(e)(iii)(A).
The problem with tax in Australia stems from the problem with the law in Australia - consistency is not considered to be important.
Take, for example, juvenile offenders.
In most states, you can be tried as an adult from about age 12 onwards.
Yet you can't vote, drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, have consensual sex, and quite a lot of other things until much later on. Usually age 18. Or thereabouts.
Thus, it appears, a 12 year old can think and reason criminal acts the same as an adult, but can't think and reason a how-to-vote card.
Other inconsistencies abound, so we can verifiably conclude that dealing with the law in Australia is a truly diabolical process.
Tax law pretty much takes the inconsistency approach, creates more exceptions and buts and leaves us with the underlying conclusion that all Australians fudge their taxes in one way or another.
Not just that, but tax law in Australia works on the basis that you are guilty until proven innocent. Fairly much different to every other criminal law in Oz.
Koch even points this out in his article.
Over the years, these little discrepancies have piled up into a huge, scary monster.
We have a Tax Pack of over 100 pages, where we once had a little form to fill in (I don't remember this - it's something that Koch points out).
Anyway, tax reform requires a bit more than a small commission looking at it over 5 weeks.
Koch mentions that the commission itself consists of Costello, Peter Hendy and Dick Warburton.
The performance of Warburton, though has not looked promising.
Not long after this commission started, Warburton was heard to remark that compulsory superannuation should be considered a tax on business.
I suppose that minimum wage could also be considered a tax too, eh Dick?
So we await this commission's findings.
I would like to say "...with baited breath..." but I have absolutely no doubt that any changes recommended by the commission will be cosmetic at best.