As you know, we believe the plan to remove full tax refunds on dividend income is both unfair and flawed and as we approach the election, the issue is heating up. From the time the policy was announced on 13 March 2018, we have clearly and consistently argued that it would negatively impact the Australian economy and disproportionally affect modest retirees and low-income earners.
Self-funded retirees come from all walks of life and have varying degrees of wealth, they are united by the fact that they are a national asset. They will only exist if Australia treats them with respect and provides fair, consistent and reliable rules that allow them to plan their retirement during their working lives. The dividend imputation system has not fundamentally changed for 18 years; moving the goal posts on people who are already retired and in many cases cannot return to work is simply not right.
Under this policy, it is modest retirees and low-income earners who will be disproportionately impacted. For example, individuals will be more incentivised to invest in non-Australian companies, and companies will be more inclined to invest overseas or to increase their levels of tax-deductible debt. Australian individuals will lose income and the Australian Government will lose tax revenue. Whatever is saved will be taken primarily from individuals with modest incomes and assets. These people have few options to deal with their loss of full tax refunds – thousands of our 80,000 shareholders have attested to this by sharing their stories with us. One of their solutions suggested is to spend their assets to qualify for government support, which would further offset the savings that have been used to justify this regressive and retrospective policy.
It is on these grounds that we oppose this policy. In our petition of more than 30,000 signatures, we have called on all sides of politics to guarantee no change to the current dividend imputation system. Unfortunately, the issue is political and that comes with considerable noise. For example, the following facts have been misrepresented:
With almost four decades of experience in analysing financial markets and investor behaviour, I am confident that changes by Australian companies and wealthy individuals will erode the forecast savings of $55.7 billion. We have campaigned against this policy because we believe it is wrong and that it will negatively impact many of our 80,000 shareholders and the broader economy. I would like to personally thank you for your support. We have been overwhelmed by your kind words and we remain resolute in our opposition to this policy.
If you have any questions, please call me on (02) 9247 6755 or email email@example.com.
Geoff Wilson AO
From the Chairman