Tax cuts planned to take effect in 2024-25 are highly regressive and would pay male beneficiaries twice as much as women, separate analyses by the Australia Institute, the Greens and the Australian Council of Social Service have found.
The so-called stage-three tax cuts will remove the 37 cents in the dollar tax bracket, lower the 32.5 cent bracket to 30 cents, and raise the top tax bracket to start at $200,000 compared with $180,000 now. All up, the cuts will cost about $184bn over the first decade, the groups said.
According to the Australia Institute’s analysis of tax office data, someone earning $200,000 a year would receive $174 a week in tax relief, or 73 times the benefit of those earning $50,000 who would save just $2.40 a week.
Since men dominate the highest income tallies, with twice as many in the top bracket as women, they also end up grabbing the lion’s share of the tax relief.
“This means that for every $1 of the tax cut that women get men get $2,” the Australia Institute said.
“We can see those men in the top 10% of taxpayers get almost 40% of the tax cut,” it said. “Women in the top 10% of taxpayers get only 15% of the tax cut because there are much fewer women in the top 10%.”
The bottom 40% of taxpayers – a group in which women outnumber men – receive just 2% of the tax cut.
“The stage-three tax cuts will only serve to further entrench wealth inequality between men and women,” Matt Grudnoff, a researcher at the Australia Institute, said.
Analysis done for the Greens by the parliamentary budget office delivered similar findings, with the average annual tax cut for a man assessed to be $1,430, or almost twice as much as for a woman at $730.
Currently 3.5% of taxpayers occupy the top tax bracket for those earning more than $180,000 a year. This group stands to gain 45% of the tax savings.
In 2024-25, the first year of operation, the top 1% of income earners would save $1.3bn in taxes, or almost twice the $700m saved by the entire bottom 60% of earners. Over the first decade, that top 1% would pocket $11.8bn compared with $12.7bn for those lower 60% of earners, the PBO assessment found.
The $184bn cost to the budget over the decade amounts to more than triple the sum spent by the Rudd-Gillard Labor government to shield Australia during the global financial crisis, Greens leader Adam Bandt said.
“Liberal and Labor have agreed to kill Australia’s progressive tax system,” Bandt said. “This great leap rightwards is a trickle-down disaster for the country.”
If the Greens secure the balance of power after this year’s election, they would “push the next government to keep Australia’s progressive tax system and make billionaires pay more tax”, he said.
Guardian Australia approached treasurer Josh Frydenberg for comment.
Earlier this month, Frydenberg’s office circulated “unpublished” treasury data showing the government’s personal income tax plan had already delivered more than $14.4bn in tax relief to more than 5.2m women since the 2018-19 fiscal year to the end of 2021.
“On average each Australian woman was $3,130 better off as a result of our tax cuts, with younger women the greater beneficiaries. Those under 24 had seen the amount of tax paid decline by more than 20%, the largest proportion of any cohort,” Frydenberg’s office said.
Labor MPs used Senate estimates on Wednesday to seek access to Treasury’s calculations on those changes to assess their accuracy.
Australian Council of Social Service (Acoss) CEO Cassandra Goldie said the use of percentage changes gave “the impression that women and young people gain a lot more from tax cuts than they actually do”.
“People on lower incomes don’t pay much income tax because their wages are already so low,” Goldie said.
For instance, a woman working part-time on $600 a week pays $40 in tax. A $10 weekly tax cut amounted to a quarter reduction in tax but just 1.6% of her income.
The stage-three tax cuts would only reinforce gender income inequities because they advantage people already in paid work and those with higher incomes, Goldie said.
“Over three-quarters [78%] of the value of stage three of the tax cuts starting in 2024 will go to the top 20% by income on $102,000 or more, and only one-third will go women,” she said, citing analysis provided to Acoss by the PBO.
Acoss wants the major parties to drop the “damaging, unfair and unaffordable tax cuts” and guarantee essential services instead.