Host: Melbourne Centre for Commercial Law

Speaker: Dr Karen Strojek (Department of Politics, Media and Philosophy at La Trobe University, Melbourne)

Date: Tuesday 6 August 2024

Time: 12:30pm – 1:30pm

Location: Room 221, Level 2, Melbourne Law School and online

Since the publication of the Henry Tax Review, there have been increasing calls for the reintroduction of inheritance taxes in Australia. These have been matched by anti-death-tax rhetoric from the political right. Anyone arguing for or against the reintroduction of inheritance taxes in Australia would benefit from understanding the reasons why they were abolished; however, existing literature on this topic is narrow and incomplete and the reasons are broadly misunderstood. This paper explains why Australian ‘death duties’ were discontinued, by eight separate Australian governments, between 1976 and 1983. It identifies two main interest groups – widowed women and family farmers – whose appeals for tax relief engaged Australia’s major political parties in very different ways. The paper concludes with a reflection on the political feasibility of reintroduction.

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