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Tax rebates must be a genuine incentive to go bush

5 October 2011

Offering meaningful tax incentives to those who live in rural and regional Australia through revamping Australia's Tax Zone Rebate scheme could encourage more people to move to country areas, the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has said today.

NFF President Jock Laurie said the proposal to review regional tax offsets, put forward by the Queensland and WA State Governments at today’s Tax Forum in Canberra, is not a new concept but rather something the NFF has long lobbied to achieve.

“The NFF has long suggested that tax rebates can overcome some of the serious inequities faced by those living in country areas, and we are pleased to see the proposal to review the current system being raised at this week's Tax Forum,” Mr Laurie said.

“We see many opportunities for the taxation system to be used more effectively in boosting rural populations, correcting the inequalities that currently exist between city and country living, and easing the growth in the urban population.

“A tax rebate scheme has been in place for some 75 years and is widely acknowledged to no longer be effective, as it has not increased sufficiently to offset the effects of inflation.

“Last year’s Henry Review found that the zone tax offset should be reviewed, and we certainly agree – it is time for the scheme to be analysed and the potential benefits fully realised. And, with the agricultural industry facing a labour shortage of some 100,000 workers compared to pre-drought levels, now is the time to have this debate.

“Fittingly, this week is National Skills Week - the week where the Government is encouraging people of all ages to consider practical and vocational study in areas like agriculture.

“A push for more people to consider careers in agriculture, combined with incentives like tax offsets to move to country areas, could be a real boon for the farming sector and the communities that rely on it for their survival,” Mr Laurie said.

The Zone Tax Rebate was just one of the NFF’s priority areas for tax reform leading into the Tax Forum. The NFF’s Statement of Tax Reform Priorities is available here.

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