Petroleum and mineral resource rent taxes: could these taxation principles have a wider application?



Publication Details

McLaren, J. (2012). Petroleum and mineral resource rent taxes: could these taxation principles have a wider application?. Macquarie Law Journal, 10 69-84.


The Australian Government introduced a Petroleum Resource Rent Tax (PRRT) on offshore oil and gas deposits in 1984 and since then it has raised in excess of an additional $1 billion a year in revenue over and above the normal company tax on income. The Australian Government has introduced a Mineral Resource Rent Tax (MRRT) on iron ore, coal and gas from coal seams effective from 1 July 2012. The MRRT has been met with criticism from certain mining companies and noted economists. However, Australia currently has a budget deficit and an MRRT is being viewed by the government as a possible solution to balancing the budget. A Resource Rent Tax (RRT) has been used by a number of countries such as the United Kingdom and Norway to increase government revenue from their 'North Sea' oil reserves. It would appear that this type of tax has a number of desirable attributes, especially in relation to efficiency. Is it now time for governments to consider a wider application of a rent tax to other industries and resources? A 'rent tax' being a tax on land is now an accepted form of taxation in many western economies such as Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. There are a number of businesses such as the airline industry, the fishing industry, the Australian funeral industry and the timber industry that generate an economic rent due to their dominance in a particular business sector. This paper examines a number of those industries and contends that, due to the super profits being generated by these businesses, governments should consider the imposition of a rent tax.