Despite the government spruiking its tax relief for Australians in this year’s budget, many women will not benefit from the tax plan. There is also a lack of support for the most vulnerable in our society, including Indigenous women, women with a disability and women affected by family violence.
The budget papers state that the tax offset, available from 1 July 2018, will benefit low and middle income earners.
However, the structure of the tax offset only reduces tax paid, if a person pays tax in the first place. In the 2015-16 year, 1.9 million, or 32% of women who lodged a tax return, were not taxable, and would not benefit from the offset.
Additional funding was not set aside for the National Plan to Reduce Violence against women and their children. Eight years after the plan was launched and midway through the government’s Third Action Plan, there is no improvement in any of the four indicators of change.
Indigenous women also lose out with this budget. At a time when the government’s Closing the Gap efforts are seen to be faltering, with only one of seven key targets on track to be met after a decade, there is little in this budget to change that.
Notably, the proposal to allow the federal government to withhold welfare payments to pay fines imposed under state and territory laws has been described by the National Congress of First Peoples as:
…a recipe for ensuring that the poorest and most vulnerable members of our society will remain so, with unpaid fines likely leading to increased rates of incarceration rather than pathways to prosperity.