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Policy Monographs


Policy Monographs (PM) are pieces directly commenting on government policy, new programs or legislation.

  • Compulsory Super at 20: ‘Libertarian Paternalism’ Without the Libertarianism

    25 Nov 2012 | PM132

    Examines the economic case for compulsory superannuation contributions and questions whether compulsory super is the most effective way of promoting household and national saving and reducing future demands... Read More

  • Future Funds or Future Eaters? The Case Against a Sovereign Wealth Fund for Australia

    20 Feb 2012 | PM126

    This paper considers the arguments for and against greater use of a sovereign wealth fund in Australia. It argues that the existing Future Fund is unnecessary and that greater use of a sovereign wealth... Read More

  • Australia’s Angry Mayors: How Population Growth Frustrates Local Councils

    14 Jul 2011 | PM120

    To understand the effects of a growing population on Australia’s councils, CIS surveyed local authorities from all over the country. The results are alarming. The level of frustration with inadequate... Read More

  • Why Does Government Grow?

    13 Apr 2011 | PM117

    This paper examines some of the stylised facts in relation to the growth of government in the Western world generally, and Australia in particular. It then reviews some of the main theories advanced to... Read More

  • The Unfinished Business of Australian Income Tax Reform

    Robert Carling | 10 Mar 2010 | PM108

    Robert Carling says the reform agenda for personal income tax should be to cut marginal tax rates; implement automatic indexation of thresholds for inflation; scale back the myriad selective tax breaks... Read More

  • Reforming Capital Gains Tax: The Myths and Reality behind Australia’s Most Misunderstood Tax

    Stephen Kirchner | 12 Nov 2009 | PM103

    The implications of the Ralph Capital Gains Tax (CGT) reforms vary widely depending on the type of taxpayer, asset class, and inflation environment.  This report examines the CGT and considers possible... Read More

  • Ending the Churn: A Tax/Welfare Swap

    John Humphreys | 07 Oct 2009 | PM100

    John Humphreys argues that removing middle-class welfare in exchange for income tax cuts, the government could reduce tax and welfare by about $80 billion without leaving anybody worse off. Read More

  • Fiscal Rules for Limited Government: Reforming Australia’s Fiscal Responsibility Legislation

    Robert Carling | 28 Jul 2009 | PM98

    The paper outlines the rationale for fiscal responsibility legislation and a rules-based approach to fiscal policy. It examines the shortcomings of the existing CBH, showing how it has failed to prevent... Read More

  • The Faulty Arguments Behind Australia’s Corporate Tax

    Sinclair Davidson | 01 Oct 2008 | PM87

    This paper investigates Australian corporate tax and highlights a number of issues that deserve greater public awareness. Read More

  • The Faulty Arguments Behind Australia's Corporate Tax

    Sinclair Davidson | 31 Jul 2008

    In Australia, the primary function of taxation is to finance government spending. Its secondaryobjectives relate to influencing social and economic outcomes, resource allocation, consumptionpatterns, the... Read More

  • State Tax Reform: Progress and Prospects

    Robert Carling | 10 Mar 2008 | PM82

    This paper analyses the state taxation issues in further detail. After reviewing various reform options, it outlines the key features of what a much improved state tax system would look like. Read More

  • Fiscal Illusion: How Big Government Makes Tax Look Small

    Sinclair Davidson | 21 Jan 2008 | PM81

    Sinclair Davidson in this paper canvasses an issue that cuts across all taxes and all levels of government: fiscal illusion and how it contributes to the growth of the state. Exposing the policies and... Read More

  • Exploring a Carbon Tax for Australia

    John Humphreys | 06 Nov 2007 | PM80

    It is not a foregone conclusion that we need a carbon trading scheme or a carbon tax. Humphreys provides much food for thought on the nature of the optimal policy response and how it can fit in with broader... Read More

  • Tax Competition: Much To Do About Very Little

    Sinclair Davidson | 15 Oct 2007 | PM78

    Sinclair Davidson challenges the notion of ‘harmful’ international tax competition. He argues that in the sphere of taxation, as elsewhere, competition should be welcomed as a force for good, not stifled... Read More

  • Tax Earmarking Is It Good Practice?

    Robert Carling | 16 Jul 2007 | PM75

    This Monograph critically analyses the use of earmarked (or ‘hypothecated’) taxes in Australia. Read More

  • The Government Giveth and the Government Taketh Away: Tax Welfare Churning and the Case for Welfare State Opt-Outs

    Peter Saunders | 14 May 2007 | PM74

    Australians are more prosperous than ever before, so the number of people needing government assistance should be falling. Yet the welfare state keeps getting bigger. The book explores this paradox. It... Read More

  • State Taxation and Fiscal Federalism: A Blueprint for Further Reform

    Robert Carling | 03 Nov 2006 | PM73

    This paper identifies major structural flaws in our current taxation system and develops a set of radical proposals to put them right. The flaws it identifies lie in the fiscal relation between the Commonwealth... Read More

  • Reform 30/30: Rebuilding Australia’s Tax and Welfare Systems

    John Humphreys | 25 Nov 2005 | PM70

    John Humphreys has a vision of how the tax and welfare systems could be refashioned to break through the dispiriting problems that currently bedevil them. It is for those who reject this vision to put... Read More

  • Are There Any Good Arguments Against Cutting Income Taxes?

    Sinclair Davidson | 22 Aug 2005 | PM69

    Sinclair Davidson explains why, in a sharply ‘progressive’ tax system like ours, tax cuts that appear to favour high earners more than low earners are not only ‘fair’ but are to a large extent... Read More

  • The Costs of Taxation

    Alex Robson | 21 Aug 2005 | PM68

    The question the government needs to ask is not whether it can do good through more spending, but is whether the relentless increase in the personal tax burden needed to finance all this spending is costing... Read More

  • How Highly Taxed Are We? The Level and Composition of Taxation in Australia and the OECD

    Peter Burn | 19 Nov 2004 | PM67

    Rather than establishing the case for even higher taxes on earnings, a careful analysis of OECD statistics shows what many Australian workers and businesses have long suspected; we are being squeezed much... Read More

  • The Very Idea of a Flat Tax

    Lauchlan Chipman | 29 Oct 2004 | PM66

    Lauchlan Chipman questions a key principle that has long been embedded in our system of taxation and which most Australians probably accept as being self-evidently the ‘best’ and ‘fairest’ way... Read More

  • Will You Still Vote for Me in the Morning? Why Politicians Aren’t Rushing to Increase Taxes

    Andrew Norton | 16 Jul 2004 | PM65

    Norton’s review of the evidence does not indicate the existence of a population keen to pay more tax. The politicians know this, which is why the Coalition delivered limited tax cuts (as well as a lot... Read More

  • Who Pays the Lion’s Share of Personal Income Tax?

    Sinclair Davidson | 13 Jul 2004 | PM63

    Davidson’s paper performs a service by exposing the absurdities of some of the claims that are being made about who pays what. Higher income earners are paying much more than their ‘fair share’ in... Read More

  • Tax Reform to Make Work Pay

    Peter Saunders | 29 May 2004 | PM62

    We are paying more tax than ever before. Australia’s tax burden is higher than in the United States and Japan, taxes on incomes are as high as in many European countries, and corporate taxation is higher... Read More

  • The Taxation of Shared Family Incomes

    Terry Dwyer | 29 Apr 2004 | PM61

    Terry Dwyer’s paper makes a compelling case for recognising family income sharing for tax purposes, and his arguments and proposals should be central to any future discussion of how to achieve a fairer... Read More

  • The Tax Wilderness How to Restore the Rule of Law

    | 18 Mar 2004 | PM60

    The importance of Geoffrey Walker’s paper is that it shows the price we are paying as a nation for government’s failure to keep its tax demands within reasonable bounds. It is bad enough that escalating... Read More

  • Poverty in Australia: Beyond the Rhetoric

    Peter Saunders | 01 Mar 2004 | PM57

    This report challenges prevailing definitions and measurements of poverty, and calls for an alternative strategy for poverty alleviation based on American-style welfare reform, lower taxation and job creation. Read More

  • Taxing the family : Australia's forgotten people in the income spectrum

    Lucy Sullivan | 22 Aug 2001 | PM50

    Over the last two decades, the tax burden has shifted from taxpayers without to taxpayers with dependent children.  While social security expenditure on welfare dependency has risen, spending on family... Read More

  • Behavioural Poverty

    Lucy Sullivan | 09 Apr 2000 | PM45

    The welfare debate is bedeviled by the failure to distinguish behavioural from financial poverty. The minimum income available to families on welfare are commensurate with those of families on average... Read More

  • The Resource Rent Tax. A Penality of Risk Taking

    John Bowers and Ray Ball | 16 Aug 1983 | PM5

    We see no evidence that the Australian resources industries are not competitive. Therefore if the RRT were a true resources rent tax, with the Government subsidising negative economic rents as well as... Read More

  • Lessons from the Ord

    B.R. Davidson | 01 Jan 1982 | PM2

    The Ord Scheme, indeed, offers ample ammunition for those who take the extreme view that responsibility is directly proportional to the taxing power. Certainly even those who hold a less extreme position... Read More