Saturday, 19 December 2015

Taxing Times

Do you pay tax, gentle reader?

I do, and have done so  since 1963, when I started work at age fifteen.

The only exception to that was the year (1970) when I was on active service in South Vietnam.

Mind you, the ATO wasn't all that happy about that, and sent me a nasty letter in 1972 (it took them two years to catch up with me)  complaining that I hadn't submitted a return for the 1970 - 71 financial year.

Sending them a copy of my discharge certificate did the trick, but I never did get any acknowledgement or apology.

So that means I've been paying tax for fifty-two years, all my working life. It would be interesting to calculate the total I've paid during that time.

I reckon it would be well over six figures.

It is a bit mind-blowing, therefore, to be apprised of the fact that about 1500 corporate entities operating in this country haven't paid tax during the  2013 - 14 income year.

Here, gentle reader, is the complete list. It makes compelling reading.

Note, once you get past those that paid no tax (first section in the list) you get to see the list of those who did actually pay tax. For these, the interesting part is the percentage of tax paid as a proportion of income. It averages at about 5%.

Anyhow, it's fascinating to note the following -

1. Many corporations earn considerable income, but no taxable income is listed.
2. Many corporations have taxable income listed, but pay no tax.
3. Those that do pay tax, generally pay anything between 5% and 10%. Compare that with what you pay.

Some well know corporations are worth a mention -

ACER Computer Australia earned $309,078,107 and paid no tax.
General Motors Australia earned $4,138,128,813 but paid no tax.
Puma Energy Holdings (Australia) earned $2,449,375,592 but - you guessed it - paid no tax.

Hard to believe? perhaps, but these are official ATO figures. Obviously there's a whole litany of tax whispering dodges that mere mortals like you and I aren't privileged to access.

To quote one notorious Australian pollie - please explain!

So in summary - thousands of corporations operating in this country earn revenue in this country but pay no tax in this country. Those that do pay an average of 5%.

That's a bloody sight less than what I pay, and have paid for over fifty years. It's clearly unjust, but is possible because there is a very profitable tax minimization industry operating in Australia, as it does everywhere else in the world.

As they say in the classics, there are crooks, and then there are tax lawyers. Generally the two groups are indistinguishable.

Perhaps the only action open to the mug taxpayer (like you and me) is to reveal the truth, and perhaps boycott the tax evading corporations. Maybe a social media campaign would be effective.

The News Limited media writes about dole bludgers. I wonder what it would take to get them to acknowledge tax bludgers?

But hang about, News Limited paid no tax on their $2.8 billion revenue last financial year.

There's a connection there somewhere.

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