xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' The Font of Noelage: It is the poor who are still getting all the blame.

Friday, 28 April 2017

It is the poor who are still getting all the blame.

Recently, The West Australian newspaper published what it called the state’s Rich List.

How interesting it would be for The West to publish a list of our state's Highest Tax Payers. Quite possibly, several of those on the Rich List would be nowhere to be seen on the Highest Taxpayer List. For the sad truth is that many of our richest people and corporations pay little or no income tax whatsoever.

 The British Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, said in the parliament recently that the Tories were “Strong against the weak and weak against the strong”. This has long been the case in Australia. Those on welfare are pursued relentlessly, while millionaires and very profitable corporations pay little or no tax whatsoever.

Centrelink has declared war on welfare recipients, in many cases sending them demands for payment of non existetent debts. On the other hand, very rich people and corporations  are helped by government tax avoidance regulations which favour Negative Gearing and turn a blind eye to those who put their treasure in tax havens like the Cayman Islands.

State Liberal MP, Ben Morton, wrote recently that the welfare safety net had become a comfortable hammock for many on welfare. The fact is that most people on welfare are on a knife’s edge, hanging out for the next payment to pay their bills and buy essential goods.

LNP politicians and sections of the media are very outspoken about the perceived rorts being perpetrated by those in receipt of Centrelink welfare payments. Unemployed people on the dole are invariably referred to as job snobs, dole bludgers and disability pension rorters.

The fact is that unemployment in Australia is an unwanted and unhappy state that most unemployed people have no control over. Most of those currently on the dole have worked before and will work again.

At present, there are many thousands more out of work than there are advertised job vacancies. It does not matter how hard you try, or how often you apply for a job, no one can overcome that mathematical imbalance between those seeking work and the lesser number of jobs available.

Similarly, Centrelink’s official figures do not support the charge that their clients are all job snobs, bludgers and cheats. Between 2006 and 2010, Centrelink conducted 4 000 000 reviews in each of those years, covering 60% of its clients. As a result of this extensive investigation into people’s personal circumstances there were, on average, 3192 people referred for prosecution. That represents 0.04% per year. I am sure today’s figures would be similar. Yes, there are some welfare rorters, but a very small percentage.

On the other hand, many rich people and highly profitable corporations have made an art form of rorting the income tax system. These “Fat Cats” have been aided and abetted by the Federal government, which has sacked thousands of Australian Tax Office workers, severely cut the ATO budget and closed whole departments in order to save money.

Tax Avoidance and the lesser and, perhaps the more honourable practice of Tax Minimisation, is a growth industry in Australia. Tax accountants charge huge sums to reduce their clients taxes to negligible proportions. Peter Martin, Economics Editor for The Age newspaper, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald on May 13, 2014, said that ATO statistics showed that “75 ultra-high earning Australians paid NO INCOME TAX (My emphasis) at all. Each of them earned more than one million dollars from investments or wages and between them they accumulated $195 million, an average of $2.6 million each. But they paid no tax whatsoever. They paid no Medicare levy, no Medicare surcharge, even though 60 of them had private health insurance.”

Meanwhile, the LNP government, aided by Rupert Murdoch, who controls 70% of Australia’s media, continues to focus on those greedy, job snob welfare cheats. News Corp doesn't devote a lot of space to corporate fraud...unless it involves a trade union.

It was Kerry Packer who famously appeared before a Senate Committee and said that he paid his taxes but he was not going to pay one cent more in taxes than he had to and anybody who did was a fool. Of course, nobody but the taxman ever knew just how much tax Kerry Packer actually paid. We do know that he could afford very expensive tax accountants.

This attitude stands in direct contrast to that of Irving Berlin, who became extremely wealthy by writing some of the world's best loved and most popular songs. One day the famous composer's tax accountant started telling him how he could reduce his taxes.

"Stop! Stop!" exclaimed the great songwriter. "I do not want to reduce my taxes. I want to pay my taxes. I love this country."

What a shame that in Australia we have very rich people who are quite happy to be listed on The Rich List, while nobody knows who is on the Highest Tax Payer List.

Irving Berlin saw paying your taxes as a duty and an honour. I think we should know and salute those Australians who do make big personal tax contributions to our nation.

After all, when the footy match finishes, the commentators do not wax lyrical about the players who were paid the most, they wax lyrical about the players who made the most effective contribution to the team.

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