This report has demonstrated that it is possible to produce experimental new statistics on environmental taxes by industry and households. Indeed, the OECD has already completed a preliminary foray into this, but not with a focus on taxpayers.
The work by the ABS shows that it is possible to estimate some environmental taxes on an annual basis. However, there are certain aspects of the data compilation that would benefit from improvements, namely.
- Improvements in the distribution for energy taxes by considering heavy and light vehicles separately. This distinction is not made under the current method.
- Improvements in the adjustments of tax credits. The current method does not take into consideration historical changes in tax credit decisions.
- Improvements in historical prices for fuel. The current method only considers historical data for one year (2008-09) and for one region (Western Australia). The method would benefit from developing a time series of nationwide fuel prices, preferably by using Consumer Price Index (cat. no. 6401.0) or the Producer Price Indexes (cat. no. 6427.0).
- Gross energy use should be investigated in the context of previous ABS work (i.e. Hao, Legoff et al 2012) on consumption based GHG emissions via the I/O framework. However, the I/O framework requires a significantly more disaggregated level of industry than the statistics on tax revenues could sustain.
- Extend the time series further back to at least 1990.
Improvements in the input data are also desirable. While the available statistics are fit for the purpose of estimating environmental taxes by industry and households, a lower level of aggregation would be beneficial. For example, it is not possible to distinguish taxes on fringe benefits of cars in Government Finance Statistics (GFS), nor is it possible to identify the information directly from the ATO and tax returns. Theoretically, this could be done as the tax return includes a question to provide details of fringe benefits provided (section 23 - Australian Taxation Office, 2011b). However, this question is not currently subject to sufficient quality assurance for this purpose.
It was also not possible to distinguish import duties on cars from the GFS or separate taxes on registration for heavy duty vehicles. Additional sources are therefore necessary to identify the relevant tax revenue.