Small targets, big gains: BDO’s 2023-24 Federal Budget predictions

Small targets, big gains: BDO’s 2023-24 Federal Budget predictions

Wealthy Australians, energy companies, and the top end of town can expect targeted revenue raising measures to surface in this year’s federal budget, with the government determined to get on top of a growing debt bill, says BDO in Australia.

Mark Molesworth, Tax Partner at BDO in Australia, says the government’s Tax Expenditures and Insights Statement— released in February— highlights tax concessions that the government could target in its May 9 Federal Budget.

“The top end of town should be on notice if the recently proposed superannuation changes are anything to go by,” says Mr Molesworth.

“Tax breaks on superannuation earnings and contributions are not the largest tax expenditure but the government’s move could be seen as a harbinger of other measures that similarly target a smaller population or group of entities that are seen to be well off.”

Treasury’s Tax Expenditures and Insights Statement shows that the 50 per cent capital gains tax (CGT) discount for assets owned for more than 12 months would cost $23.7 billion this financial year, while the main residence CGT exemption will cost $48 billion.

“The CGT main residence exemption is the single largest tax concession provided. Some trimming of it could be on the agenda, if the government thinks that the increased tax revenue is worth the political pain. To limit the impact to a small group of taxpayers, a prospective change, only applying to increases in value from the time of the budget and where the property sells for more than $2 million might be palatable,” said Mr Molesworth.

“Additionally, the CGT discount could be on the chopping block for some taxpayers. It’s possible to imagine a reduction in the discount for gains over a certain threshold— say $3 million— limiting the impacts to a smaller, wealthier cohort.”

With Treasurer Jim Chalmers mulling over Treasury’s report on the $2 billion-a-year petroleum resource rent tax (PRRT), Mr Molesworth believes oil and gas producers should expect tax changes this year.

“Energy companies are certainly in the government’s sights, while there have also been calls for the government to increase the major bank levy. In both cases, you’ve got entities that are doing well financially and who are very small in number,” said Mr Molesworth.

“Remaining in the business sphere, further measures targeting significant global entities – those members of groups with more than $1 billion turnover – could be on the cards. This could include removing concessions that other business enjoy from them – such as the exemption for dividends received from overseas.”

Keeping in line with measures that target a small but wealthier cohort, Mr Molesworth says small tweaks could still be made to the long-debated stage three tax cuts that are due to start in 2025.

“The government could still move to reduce the generosity of the stage three tax cuts by keeping the existing threshold for the top tax bracket at $180,000. Again, it would be framed at targeting high income earners and would not trouble the vast majority of the population,” said Mr Molesworth.

“What we probably don't expect to see are system-wide tax reforms that affect a large cohort of taxpayers or consumers.”

“On that basis, we don't expect to see any changes to the rate or the base of the GST, however acceptable or desirable those changes might be.”

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Jotham Lian
Manager, Media

Jane Ward
Senior Manager, Media