Tax Cuts the Centrepiece as Scott Morrison Hands Down Federal Budget

Australian taxpayers are set to become big winners, under new measures announced in the Federal Budget.

Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison has handed down his third budget promising “essential services that Australians rely on” while aiming to return the country to a $2.2 billion surplus in 2019-20, cutting its $14.5 billion debt in 2018-19.

“This is what can be responsibly afforded while keeping the Budget on track,” Mr Morrison told parliament.

The Federal Budget was targeted towards the next election, with Mr Morrison promising to bring tax relief in five years’ time.

Tax cuts for low and middle-income earners were the centerpiece of Mr Morrison’s Budget, included to encourage and reward working Australians.

The reform will come in a “seven-year plan” where Australian workers earning between $41,000 and $200,000 a year.

Workers earning up to $37,000 will get tax cuts of $200, while people earning between $37,000 and $90,000 will get cuts of up to $530 a year.

About 4.4 million Australian taxpayers with incomes between $48,000 and $90,000 will receive the $530 rebate, coming through higher offsets after tax returns.

Australia’s aging population will also benefit with $1.6 billion provided over four years to increase the number of home care places 14,000.

It will help support older Australians who want to stay at home than go into residential aged care.

Hospital patients will receive an extra $1.4 billion across five years for new Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme listings.

The funding will include medicines to treat spinal muscular atrophy, breast cancer, refractory multiple myeloma, relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis and a new medicine to prevent HIV.

Indigenous Australians will also receive $550 million over five years from 2018-19 to address remote housing in the Northern Territory.

Infrastructure across the country will be getting a boost, with $3.5 billion for roads including $1.5 billion for Northern Australia, $400 million for Tasmania, $100 million for New South Wales and the ACT as well as $1.5 billion for future priorities.

The travel of commuters will be made smoother for Western Australians with $1.05 billion devoted to the Perth METRONET rail project.

$1 billion will also be included for a “Urban Congestion Fund” to improve traffic flow.

$536 million will also spent on the Great Barrier Reef over five years from 2017-18, to improve the quality of water entering the reef and clamp down on coral eating crown-of-thorns starfish.

However, new migrants will have to wait four years instead of three before they can access a number of welfare benefits.

As a result of the measure, new migrants are expected to miss out on than $200 million worth of welfare benefits for five years until 2021-22.

Higher education will also not benefit in this year’s Budget, with universities paying more from January 1 next year under the government’s Education and Training plan.

The cost burden to universities is expected to help the Coalition recover costs for its Higher Education Loan Program (HELP).

A new $10,000 limit for cash payments for goods and services will also come into place from July 1, 2019.

Criminals and the ‘black economy’ will be targeted in the Budget, with $160 million devoted to help national police and security officers to “fight crime and prevent terrorism” while also investing $59.1 million to create a National Criminal Intelligence System.

$68.6 million will also go to the establishment of the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation.

Mr Morrison said the Budget will likewise be used to “target under-reporting of income” with the largest of the measures including outlawing large cash payments greater than $10,000 to limit criminal activity of “gangs, terrorists and those who are just trying to cheat on their tax.”

Meanwhile, the ABC is expected to face a funding freeze that will halt ay extra dollars until 2021-22, to save $83.7 million over three years to be redirected to “other Communications and the Arts portfolio priorities.”

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