ABS responds to 'Howard writes tax history' published in 'The Australian Financial Review' on 2 April

Correct Picture Of ABS Figures

Dear Sir

I refer to David Bassanese's article on 2 April titled 'Howard writes tax history', which used data provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The data provided for some periods were incorrect. Also, the data used were a mixture of accruals and cash-based data. Accrual data are only available from 1998-99, whereas cash data are available for all periods. For analysis of government finance statistics covering long periods of time we recommend that cash data only be used, to maximise the consistency of the data.

Using cash data for all periods, and with corrections to the data in error, Commonwealth tax revenue, as a proportion of GDP, in the period prior to the introduction of the GST was highest in 1986-87, at 24.4%, and not in 1999-2000 as stated in the article. Using the revised data, the proportion for 1999-2000 is 24.1%.

I regret the errors in the data provided to Mr Bassanese.

Yours sincerely

Rob Edwards
Acting Australian Statistician
Australian Bureau of Statistics

7 April 2004