Tax Expenditure Statements
The annual Tax Expenditure Statement provides details of concessions, benefits, incentives and charges provided through the tax system (tax expenditures) by the Australian Government. The publication of information on the Australian Government’s tax expenditures is a requirement under the Charter of Budget Honesty Act 1998. The Tax Expenditure Statement 2010 lists 349 tax expenditures and, in dollar terms, total measured tax expenditures in 2009–10 were estimated at around $113 billion.
The ANAO conducted a performance audit in 2007–08 on the preparation of the Tax Expenditure Statement 2006. At the time of the earlier audit, 272 tax expenditures were reported for 2006–07, with an aggregate value of more than $41 billion. Among other things, the earlier audit concluded that there were unreported categories of tax expenditures, and that the Tax Expenditure Statement 2006 included quantified estimates for less than 60 per cent of the tax expenditures that were reported and, of these, two–thirds were not based on reliable estimates.
A further audit would follow-on from the earlier report, including examining improvements to the completeness and reliability of the estimates reported in the Tax Expenditure Statement 2010.
Administration of the Costing of Election Commitments
The Charter of Budget Honesty Act 1998 (the Charter) outlines arrangements under which the Secretaries of the Department of the Treasury and Finance (the Secretaries) may be asked to cost Government and Opposition election commitments during the caretaker period before a general election. Under the Charter, the Secretary to the Treasury is responsible for costing aspects of policies affecting revenue, while the Secretary of Finance is responsible for costing aspects of policies that affect government outlays and expenses. The Secretaries have, in accordance with the Charter, issued guidelines for the methodology to be used in the preparation of policy costings (the guidelines). The guidelines outline the principles and processes to be followed by the Treasury and Finance, with the aim of achieving consistent and transparent policy costings.
An audit would assess the timeliness and effectiveness of the costing of election commitments under the Charter, with particular reference to the caretaker period for the 2010 Federal Election.