According to the National Foundation of Australian Women, who have cast a gender lens on the budget, there’s good news, but sadly bad news as well.
The increase in the Medicare Levy will affect those on incomes greater than $21,644. For those with eligible children, FTB A payment rates are frozen for two years. Those who pay child care fees will continue to face high EMTRs. University graduates will start repaying loans when they reach income levels of $42,000 per year.
These changes hit those on earning well below the average wage, and are particularly harsh for women. Combined, these changes could lead to effective marginal tax rates of possibly 100% or higher for some women, particularly as Family Tax Benefit Part A begins to decrease at $51,903. Graduates caught between these policies will experience considerable financial stress; graduates earning $51,000, most of whom are likely to be women, will have less disposable income than someone earning $32,000. Changes to penalty rates may also have a significant impact on some graduates if they are extended to the aged and health care sectors as well as the childcare sector.
The point to note is not just the harsh effects on low income women but also that it is not discussed in the Budget papers, with no modelling of the exact EMTRs for different groups of women provided.
Mamamia’s Australian Women React: Federal Budget 2017 (11 May 2017) reported that over 60% of women were disappointed that equal pay, aged care and domestic violence did not receive coverage. Child care changes were welcomed but women worried about the need to address the needs of parents that don’t work. The chronic underfunding of domestic violence was considered to put women’s lives at risk. The ParentsNext expansion was considered a small win. The increasing number of single older women, who overwhelmingly work in low income jobs, were seen to be in desperate need of affordable housing.
Read the full report here.