Some of the things I'm hoping for:The government will be eager to show its commitment to cracking down on multinational tax avoidance.
With July 2 effectively locked in as election day, speculation on what's in the budget is the new game in town.
It's already spawning leaks. Deliberate or accidental, we know leaks are a standard part of the tactical playbook. We also know that holistic tax reform is off the agenda and most of the usual fiscal levers have been ruled out. What tricks could the government possibly have up its sleeve?
Here are our prognostications on what business, investors, workers and retirees can expect.
After the ructions of the Panama Papers and the repeated instances of cultural failures in the banking sector, the community expects to see government action. An about-face on previous budget cuts to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the Tax Office seems inevitable, along with new "integrity measures" to crack down on multinational tax avoidance.
This would allow the government to get ahead of any recommendations that come from Labor Senator Sam Dastyari's inquiry into the matter – his report is due shortly.
At a time when the government is seeking to enshrine the purpose of superannuation in law, expect changes on this front which will be more about revenue than retirement. All roads point towards ensuring super is not used as a de facto estate planning tool.
We could see new rules around retirees running down their capital in retirement and not just living off the income from those retirement savings – should they be so fortunate. We could also see cuts to tax concessions for high earners in pension phase and reductions in the contributions threshold.
On the positive side we may see the introduction of lifetime contribution caps. Allowing large, one-off contributions will give people flexibility to contribute more to their super when they are most able – it would be good news for low and middle income earners.
There have been too many hints about the importance of reducing the corporate tax rate for there to be no movement. We wouldn't rule out a moderate shaving of the corporate rate by up to 2 per cent from 1 July this year – to demonstrate the government's commitment to its work, save and invest mantra.
Further, we expect there could be some channelling of the UK experience, with a road map to an even lower corporate tax rate to be revealed. When David Cameron took office in 2010, his government laid out a plan to reduce the company tax rate from 28 per cent to 20 per cent. It has taken six years, and now it has flagged a further cut by 2020 to 17 per cent.
Affordability and equity are usually raised as reasons why this won't happen. Here's how these concerns might be addressed.
The government, perhaps prudently, underestimated the price of iron ore in its budget assumptions. It anticipated $US39 a tonne whereas producers are currently getting about $US60 a tonne. This "fiscal slack" could translate into something of a windfall in corporate tax collections which the government could use to fund tax cuts and generally sweeten up this pre-election budget.
When it comes to providing a cut for more than the big end of town, there are signs we could get a flow-on in the form of a moderate tax cut for unincorporated business income. After all, the vast majority of businesses in Australia are unincorporated and pay their tax at personal income tax rates. They should not be disadvantaged merely because of their chosen structure.
We're also expecting further initiatives under the umbrella of the government's innovation agenda. For all the rhetoric and television ads about the ideas boom, we still need to find ways to encourage home-grown talent to develop their next big idea – and business – in Australia.
An idea floated in the now forgotten Re:think tax discussion paper – that of a new business entity for small to medium sized enterprises – is drawing interest. The introduction of an "SME-Corp", if done properly, could be a boon for start-ups, potentially eliminating the need for up to three separate entities, all with their own tax file numbers.
And then there are the ever-present "sin" taxes – "cigarettes up, beer up", just like in the 1980s. It means there will be no repeat of the 2014 budget cigar smoking incident, but watch out for a possible sugar tax.
It might not be a typical budget, or even a typical election budget, but it's nonetheless shaping as a critical economic statement that will set the baseline for campaign promises.
Alex Malley is chief executive of CPA Australia.
* government to leave CGT and negative gearing alone (PM has pretty much confirmed this already..)
* sugar tax - big thumbs up
* superannuation legislation changes
* company tax rate cut
It will be interesting to see what the government does with tax on windfall profits from iron ore production..
What is everyone expecting from this budget?