A fairer tax system

At the time of the Henry Review of taxation the Brotherhood of St Laurence urged the Australian Government to create a simpler, more efficient and fairer tax and transfer system that would increase social equity and promote greater opportunities for all Australians.

Areas of Brotherhood research and lobbying include pensions and retirement incomes, financial incentives to work, asset-building, lifelong savings and the tax treatment of homes.

What we want

The Brotherhood calls for a fairer tax and transfer system that:

  • ends tax loopholes and concessions that favour higher income earners
  • supports those unable to work
  • encourages and rewards employment and skills development
  • encourages and rewards saving, particularly by low-income households
  • supports the needs of those who care for a relative or friend
  • helps low-income households adapt to climate change and reduce their carbon emissions.

Exploring the issue

The Brotherhood has encouraged community debate into how Australia’s taxation system could be made more equitable, efficient and proactive.


Brotherhood of St Laurence priorities for tax reform October 2011 (PDF file, 127 KB)

Towards a progressive tax system: submission to the review of Australia's future tax system October 2008 (PDF file, 128 KB)


Nicola Ballenden 2011, 'Talking taxation', Brotherhood Comment, November, pp. 1–2 (PDF file, 364 KB)

Rosanna Scutella 2008, ‘In the national interest: addressing inequities in the tax system’, Brotherhood Comment, August, pp. 1–2 (PDF file, 295 KB)

John Freebairn and Rosanna Scutella 2008, The case for change: a snapshot analysis of the Australian tax system (PDF file, 69 KB)

Disincentives to taking up paid work

Our research shows that people who are unemployed face multiple challenges to taking up paid work, due to the rules of taxation, income support payments and public housing.


Eve Bodsworth 2010, Making work pay and making income support work, (PDF file, 604 KB)
Making work pay summary (PDF file, 136 KB)

Asset building

Our analysis shows that the Australian Government’s asset-building policies, particularly tax concessions on housing and superannuation, enable wealthier households to accumulate more assets while doing little for poorer families. Changes to the current arrangements are required.


Gerard Brody and Elizabeth McNess 2009, Assets for all? A review of the Australian Government's $77 billion support for asset building (PDF file, 163 KB)

Taxation and housing

The Brotherhood’s research shows that the wealthiest Australians are getting the most benefit from tax breaks on housing. Owner-occupiers receive the greatest indirect assistance, because their homes are exempt from capital gains tax. Individual property investors also benefit greatly, from negative gearing and the 50 per cent tax discount on capital gains. On average, older households benefit much more than younger households. Tax reforms are needed to achieve a better balance.


Judith Yates 2009, Tax expenditures and housing (PDF file, 459 KB)

Pensions, allowances and retirement incomes

Australia’s retirement income system is unfair and unsustainable and in need of far-reaching reform. While many older people are struggling with daily living expenses some people on the aged pension are doing quite well. With an ageing population, it is becoming even more important that the government targets funds to the most needy.


Pension reform for all: submission to the Pension Review September 2008 (PDF file, 82 KB)

Retirement incomes submission February 2009 (PDF file, 310 KB)


Rosanna Scutella 2009, ‘Ageing well, planning wisely: strengthening Australia’s retirement income system’, Brotherhood Comment, April, p.6 (PDF file, 285 KB)

Gerry Naughton 2008, ‘Immediate assistance as well as structural reform required for a fair pension scheme’, Brotherhood Comment, November, p.10 (PDF file, 442 KB)

Simon Kelly 2008, Reform of the Australian retirement income system, NATSEM, University of Canberra (PDF file, 238 KB)

The Brotherhood of St Laurence (BSL) acknowledges and understands its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and recognises that all children and young people have the right to be treated with respect and care, and to be safe from all forms of abuse. BSL has a zero tolerance towards child abuse. Read the official statement signed by the Executive Director.

Find out more about the work of the Brotherhood
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Given the Chance

The Brotherhood of St Laurence acknowledges and recognises the Traditional Owners of the land upon which we live and work, and we pay our respects to their Elders both past and present.