Tax the Bad to Pay for the Good

(From Blog posted at on February 4, 2009)

When I do my personal tax or fill out a BAS statement the environment isn't usually top of mind. While paying our tax is an exercise in short-term financial pain for each of us, it's how we contribute to funding the long-term viability of our society.
But what if we could reform the whole tax system to work for the greener good? Not just discreet environmental taxes, but putting an environmental overlay across the whole system of taxation to make society better.

It's optimistic in the extreme, but not such a crazy idea.

For a start many experts still extol the straightforward virtues of a carbon tax, rather then the greater complexity of an emissions trading scheme, although Australia has opted for the latter in the shape of the forthcoming Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS).

There has long been accord between many economists and environmentalists on the idea of turning the taxation system on its head, so we move from taxing societal ‘goods' like employment and production to environmental ‘bads' like natural resource depletion, waste and pollution.

Politically, however, it's always been a road too hard.