Over the last week or so there has been a renewed call for the implementation of new, or should I say old taxes.
Saul Estake a well-known economist has suggested that the State Government contemplate the reintroduction of Death Duties, a retrograde tax that was abolished many decades ago.
Coupled with this proposal was the viewpoint that the state should introduce a broad-based land tax which would include farming property, this proposal has also been advocated by other vested interests in government and the media.
This proposal has its origins in urban areas of Australia and one that does nothing for regional communities or the farming sector that surrounds them. Such a tax is by its nature an impediment to investment and tends to be inequitable in its application.
The argument usually put forward by proponents is that the introduction of this tax would lead to the abolition of the current regime of stamp duty.
What is often lost in this discussion is the reality that this tax is an annual impost on all property owners, whereas the stamp duty that is currently applied is a one off.
Proponents also fail to address the equity for those that have already paid stamp duty and would now be expected to pay a land tax in addition.
The fact that this discussion is being conducted in the current pandemic induced economic recession beggar’s belief.
Instead of advocating new taxes what we should be talking about is how we stimulate investment and job creation in this state and the broader community.
To consider the implementation of retrograde taxes such as death duties and a broad-based land tax is arguably unconscionable in the current economic climate, we find ourselves in.
Let us advocate for farmers and how the government can support them into the future, an over the horizon economic look suggests strongly that 2021 and perhaps beyond will be a difficult for Tasmanian farmers.
Global commodity prices continue to suggest significant contraction and that will ultimately impact returns in the short to medium term for Tasmanian farmers.
As a sector we need to speak out and be aware that unless we do so, these taxes and other imposts will be thrust upon us.
Agriculture in Tasmania is a key economic cornerstone of our economy, it demands a better and more constructive approach than the noisy rhetoric of inner city armchair commentators.
- Peter Skillern is the chief executive of the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association.