Just as Sisyphus spent his days pushing a rock up a hill, treasurers spend their days dealing with the problems caused by the Australian tax system.
The Parliamentary Budget Office has delivered a fresh boulder to push with its latest outlook on the nation’s budget, which shows the weight being borne by ordinary taxpayers.
When Scott Morrison and then Josh Frydenberg outlined their grand seven-year plan to simplify the tax system, one of the key stated aims was to kill bracket creep.
On the day after the 2019-20 budget, Frydenberg was clear about his grand tax vision.
“That is a very significant development which will ensure that people, regardless of the jobs that they change throughout their lives, may not encounter bracket creep. And that will not be a disincentive for them to work a bit harder,” he told assembled journalists in Parliament’s Great Hall.
But like a Greek myth, bracket creep is impossible to kill.
The PBO’s analysis shows that just a few years after the three-stage tax plan is fully in place, bracket creep will mean about 87 per cent of Australian workers face a higher average tax rate.
It’s not just lower-income earners, although they will face the biggest increase in their average tax bill. Even the highest-paid won’t be able to avoid a tax increase. And women, already short-changed by our tax structure, will be dealt the largest hits.