Tax cuts are not the answer to cost of living for people on low and modest incomes

“The best solution to ease cost of living pressures for people on low and modest incomes, many of whom are women, is to lift their incomes and ease the largest costs they face such as housing. This could be done, for example by increasing the lowest income support payments, making it easier for people to pursue decent wage rises, and investing in social housing.”, said ACOSS CEO, Dr Cassandra Goldie

Stage 3 tax cuts are unfair and bad economics:

“The Government has today announcement that it will not bring forward the $16 billion per annum ‘Stage 3’ tax cuts legislated for 2024. These cuts mainly benefit people on $100,000 or above who have less need of support from government, and only one third of them go to women. They are unfair and bad economics and should be dropped altogether.”

Tax cuts generally aren’t much help to people with low incomes:

Most of the lowest 40% of households by income are not paying income tax in the first place as their incomes are below the tax-free threshold. They will not benefit from tax cuts such as the Low and Middle Income Tax Offset. Even if they did, extending it for another year would only lift disposable incomes after July 2023.

Pausing fuel excise would cost over $6 billion a year, yet only reduce petrol costs by around one fifth. Much of the benefit would flow to people on higher incomes.

The best solution: lift incomes and improve access to housing and essential services for those with the least

“In the context of a fraying social safety net and service systems under strain, Treasurer Frydenberg must deliver new investments to keep us safe and prepared for future uncertainties, strengthening essential service, tackling poverty, employment and the current housing crisis and climate emergency.

This Budget should outline a plan for investment in essential services, safety nets and a genuine response to climate change whilst lifting the growth of incomes for people with less.

As outlined in ACOSS’s budget priorities statement, we have called for:

  • The establishment of a minimum income floor in our income support system by lifting all income support payments to at least $70 a day and indexing them to wages as well as prices.
  • A 50% increase to Commonwealth Rent Assistance in addition to other supplementary payments.
  • A social housing package to reduce homelessness and kick-start housing constructions and growth in jobs and incomes.
  • The introduction of a flexible Jobs and Training Guarantee for people unemployed long- term, comprising either subsidised temporary employment, substantial further education or training, or other help to connect them directly to suitable jobs.
  • Investment of up to $5,000 in energy efficiency improvements per dwelling for 1.8 million low-income homes to cut emissions, energy bills, and create thousands of local jobs.
  • A $1,000 per household in emergency energy debt relief to reduce energy payment difficulties made worse by COVID.