PT tax reform needed

BIC has submitted its ideas on how public transport users should be up for tax benefits

PT tax reform needed
Bus Industry Confederation (BIC) executive director Michael Apps is confident tax reform can help minimise the rate of increasing traffic congestion in Australia’s capital cities and help public transport providers boost passenger capacity

The bus industry has had its say on future tax reform, by suggesting tax benefits should be introduced for those who catch the bus.

The Australian Government’s Re: think Tax Discussion Paper has attracted submissions from the public.

Bus Industry Confederation (BIC) made its submission, calling for radical change to the way road transport is priced in Australia.

Tax incentives for people who use public transport would be a smart way to increase patronage, ease congestion and cut emissions, according to the BIC submission.

Providing tax benefits to public transport users have proven successful model overseas and should be put on the Australian Government agenda and included as part of any future tax reform.

"Australia’s tax system can play an integral role in encouraging Australians to switch from the car to public transport for their own benefit as well as the benefit of the economy, environment and community," it reads.

"Australia’s current tax system provides little incentive to use alternative modes of transport from the car."

BIC’s submission focusses mainly on chapter nine pertaining to road transport.

"In fact the current tax system supports car use for business purposes.

"We advocate for a tax free allowance for commuter activity and related expenses such as public transport fares, park and ride facility costs."

Significant tax rebates are available to public transport users in a many countries around the world.

In the USA, a monthly tax deduction of up to $130 per month is available for transit expenses and up to $250 per month for qualified park and ride expenses.

Demand for public transport in the capital cites is set to rise by 55 per cent in Sydney, 121 per cent in Melbourne and an average of 89 per cent across all capital cities – as outlined in the recent 2015 Infrastructure Australia Report.

The report found current road tax arrangements will not be adequate to meet future transport challenges and pressures.

BIC would like to see GST raised via public transport fares, or at least a portion of it, to be kept separate and reinvested back into the network to increase passenger capacity, allowing services to be extended to reach more communities, to accommodate future population growth and meet increasing demand.

In 2007, the Singapore Government committed millions of dollars of GST revenue to a dedicated public transport fund as part of their GST offset package.

"A similar measure in Australia would create an ongoing source of resources for state government to assist public transport operators in meeting the growing passenger transport task," reads the submission.

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