Treasury warned on ballooning cost of franking credit refunds


By Leith van Onselen

Back in 2000, former Treasurer, Peter Costello, made the fateful decision to allow the conversion of franking credits into cash refunds for shareholders. This enabled tax-free (mostly wealthy) superannuation holders over the age of 60 to claim imputation credits even though they pay no tax, as explained by The Australia Institute:

When companies pay dividends to Australia shareholders out of after-tax profit, shareholders also receive ‘franking credits’ which are a credit against their own tax obligation and based on the tax paid by the company. This system, known as ‘dividend imputation’ is unusual and only 4 other countries in the world use it.

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About the author
Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. He is also a co-founder of MacroBusiness. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.