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Budget Needs To Tackle 'Poverty And Inequality' Across Australia: ACOSS

Australia's peak social services NGO wants urgent action on poverty.

27/02/2017 10:49 AM AEDT | Updated 27/02/2017 12:09 PM AEDT
JEWEL SAMAD
ACOSS wants the federal government to reform negative gearing and capital gains tax.

The Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) wants the Turnbull Government to tackle the "big challenge" of housing affordability and budget repair by curbing generous tax breaks to property investors.

ACOSS, the peak body for the nation's community welfare sector, unveiled its pre-budget submission on Monday, calling on the federal government to consider a range of measures that would save more than $9 billion by 2018-19.

Among its recommendations, ACOSS urged the government to look at cutting the current 50 percent discount on capital gains tax (CGT) and scaling back generous tax breaks on negative gearing.

"We cannot try to address our budget challenges off the back of the people on the very lowest income," ACOSS chief executive Cassandra Goldie told the ABC.

"Housing affordability is a big challenge right across the community. We want the right kind of investment in property. We want new, good stock, affordable housing stock, so what we would say is grandfather existing arrangements, remove negative gearing into the future."

Goldie said it was more important to safeguard the future welfare of struggling Australians than give generous tax concessions to property investors.

"We can no longer afford the 50 per cent discount on taxes for capital gains from property assets and deductions for such investment using negative gearing," Goldie said.

The ACOSS submission also recommends making all high-income Australians pay the 1 to 1.5 per cent Medicare levy surcharge, which would raise more than $4 billion per year, according to Fairfax Media.

ACOSS also wants fuel tax credits to mining companies to be dumped and back a sugar tax on sweetened drinks.

The ACOSS plan is an attempt to find budget savings that don't rely on cutting social services to some of the nation's most vulnerable people.

By contrast, the Turnbull Government is relying on passing its so-called Omnibus Bill, which contains reductions for welfare recipients and families, to save a reported $13 billion and put a dent in the budget deficit, which is predicted to hit $36.5 billion.

The fate of the bill remains unclear, with Labor, the Greens and the Nick Xenophon Team recently signalling their opposition to it.

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