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'We need a tax system that raises sufficient revenue to fund the activities we wish Government to undertake.We need a tax system that is equitable and efficient', Bishop Manning, Chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council said today.

'In discussing tax reform, we should recall the role of Governments. Governments exist to assist, support and coordinate the efforts of individuals, families and groups in society to ensure that each of them is oriented to the good of all. Often they must intervene in social and economic life to establish conditions that help each person and each group to achieve their potential as freely and fully as possible. Governments need to raise revenue in order to pay for the goods, services and social infrastructure that they provide, as well as meeting payments on previous borrowings.

'I believe that many people are willing to pay more tax in return for more services if they believe that the burdens and benefits of taxation are shared equitably.

'We are all really responsible for each other. Those who have more should help those who have less. The needs of the poor should have priority over the wants of the rich. Taxation is one way in which we discharge this responsibility for one another.

'The goods of the earth are intended by God for the use of all, therefore everyone has a right to the things they need to live. The taxation and transfer systems should function to ensure such access.

'Many people believe that our tax system needs reform. The concerns of Catholic organisations focus on the need for greater equity in the tax system. The needs of the poor, the disadvantaged, and of families must be addressed.

'The details of the Government's tax reform proposals are not available yet, but I would ask those attempting to reform the tax system to address the following questions:

  • How will you ensure that the tax system is fair, especially for the poorest?
  • Will you increase the proportion of revenue raised through indirect taxes?
  • Will you introduce or raise taxes on necessities?
  • How will you address tax evasion across all forms of income?
  • How will you ensure that families are not disadvantaged compared with those who have no dependants?

'A number of Church and community agencies will be contributing to the tax reform debate as the proposals are put on the table. Catholic church agencies will wish to evaluate all proposals from the point of view of the social justice principles of the Catholic Church', he concluded.

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