Tax Policy Design and the Role of a Tax-Free Threshold
Melbourne Institute Working Paper No. 13/08
Date: August 2008
This paper examines the role of the tax-free income tax threshold in a complex tax and transfer system consisting of a range of taxes and benefits, each with their own taper rates and thresholds. Considering a range of tax and benefit systems, particularly those having benefit taper rates whereby some benefits are received by income groups other than those at the bottom of the distribution, it is suggested that a tax-free threshold is not a necessary requirement to achieve redistribution. A policy change involving the elimination of the taxfree threshold in Australia and designed to achieve approximate revenue neutrality is examined using the Melbourne Institute Tax and Transfer Simulator. The results demonstrate that it is possible to eliminate the tax-free threshold under approximate overall revenue and distribution neutrality, but that labour supply incentives cannot be improved at the same time.