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Sisyphus and treasurers face the same problem: the work doesn’t stop

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.

Take-home pay for millions of Australians will still be affected by bracket creep, even after the government’s tax reforms.

Take-home pay for millions of Australians will still be affected by bracket creep, even after the government’s tax reforms.Credit:Gabriele Charotte

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.

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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.

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