The Commonwealth Treasury

Tax Expenditures Statement

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Tax expenditure estimates

5.1 Introduction

Tax expenditure estimates and projections are reported in Table 5.1. All estimates refer to the annual benefits derived by the recipients of each tax expenditure, reported in millions of dollars. Further detail of each tax expenditure is provided at Appendix A, including legislative references and, in some cases, an expanded description and discussion of the estimates.

Only tax expenditures that relate to Commonwealth taxes are reported in Table 5.1. As the GST is imposed and collected by the Commonwealth on behalf of the States and Territories this Statement does not cover GST.

Estimates reflect the year the concession impacts on revenue, rather than the year in which the concession is accessed. Furthermore, the timing of the impact is based on the tax payment arrangements that apply under The New Tax System and The New Business Tax System (including for years prior to the commencement of the new payment arrangements). This approach allows more meaningful comparisons to be made of movements in the tax expenditure estimates since only variations in tax rates, and the extent to which the tax expenditures are being accessed, are reflected in the estimates.

In many cases, it is difficult to estimate the value of certain tax expenditures because of a lack of data. These tax expenditures are identified either by 'na' or a broad indication of the order of magnitude (for example: <5, which indicates that the magnitude of the tax expenditure is likely to be less than $5 million).

5.2 Accrual estimates

The Commonwealth Government has completed a phased transition from cash to accrual budgeting. Historically, cash accounting has underpinned the production of public accounts. This TES is the third to be prepared on an accrual basis1 using the tax liability method (TLM) of revenue recognition.

The fundamental distinction between cash and accrual accounting centres on timing -cash accounting records the transaction when the cash is exchanged, whereas accrual indicators record a financial flow at the time economic value is created, transformed, exchanged, transferred or extinguished, whether or not cash is exchanged at the time.

Under the TLM method of revenue recognition, the Commonwealth is deemed to have accrued revenue at the time a taxpayer makes a self-assessment or when an assessment of tax liability is raised by the Australian Taxation Office or the Australian Customs Service. In many instances, this method retains elements of cash revenue recognition, for example where assessment and payment occur at the same time.

The introduction of accrual budgeting required a minor modification to the terminology used to describe government expenditure, referred to as outlays under cash budgeting. The term outlays is generally applied to cash payments. Under accrual accounting, the equivalent concept is expenses. Expenditure is a neutral term that does not necessarily apply to one accounting basis or the other.

Abbreviations and notation for Table 5.1

The following notations are used:

- nil
.. not zero, but rounded to zero
na estimate is not available
nec not elsewhere classified
$m $ million
<X estimate is less than X million dollars

The column titles of Table 5.1 are described below.

See separate file for Table 5.1.

1 Government Finance Statistics (GFS) basis.