27 March 2015
The Treasurer, Joe Hockey, will release a discussion paper on Monday on our future tax system, starting a national conversation on how the government can best collect revenue.
Tax reform has an impact on the daily life of all Australians, which is why it is so important for governments to get it right. Deciding what is right is a moral issue. It involves identifying the relevant values, and finding technical solutions to achieve those values. The social teaching of the Catholic Church does not propose technical solutions to taxation regimes but it does have something worthwhile to say about values.
We need a tax system firmly focused on the needs and welfare of people, not on abstract things like economic measurements. How governments collect revenue is just as important as how it is spent.
Making difficult decisions is that much easier if you have identified a clear set of values as the criteria to help you sort out what’s important and what’s not. In that spirit, I want to set out a few criteria to help evaluate new tax proposals: the common good, distributive justice and the preferential option for the poor.
The Reverend Brian Lucas is General Secretary of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference