Saturday, December 13, 2014

Taxing Patience

Almost every nation, especially those out there in Hilary's Village, have politicians and bureaucracies that tax us. Most people pay taxes. Oh Yeah ?  In the Tavern there is no 'GST' or 'VAT' on the Grace we serve. Indeed, much of the time I do not even bother to charge for the drinks. Grace is 'Given'. 

Mammon however demands his 'due'. 

The question arises from time to time asking just who should pay tax, what taxes should be paid and how much. Almost everytime the issue is raised there will be a disagreement, largely caused by ignorance or greed, or 'entitlement' or plain stupidity. It taxes my patience.

Only a tiny share of the population were eligible for the very low rates of income tax that emerged in English-speaking countries in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. While the scope and size of governments have soared since then, the price of civilisation still falls disproportionately on the richest. 'Twas ever thus.

Show me a sensible discussion. Please. Oh, wait, here is one below ! Read and meanwhile I will pull the pints. 

It is an issue fraught with relationships between 'authorities', bureaucrats, taxpayers, shysters, politicians (not quite the same: I am differentiating), idle layabouts, utopians and of course women. 

Lord Clyde, a learned Judge, made the issue of the realtionships clear, at least in a major respect.
"No man in the country is under the smallest obligation, moral or other, so to arrange his legal relations to his business or property as to enable the Inland Revenue to put the largest possible shovel in his stores. 
The Inland Revenue is not slow, and quite rightly, to take every advantage which is open to it under the Taxing Statutes for the purposes of depleting the taxpayer's pocket. And the taxpayer is in like manner entitled to be astute to prevent, so far as he honestly can, the depletion of his means by the Inland Revenue"
James Avon Clyde, Lord Clyde KC DL (1863 – 1944) Lord Justice General and Lord President of the Court of Session from 1920 to 1935.

There are three ways of approaching Taxation, as far as in an individual's power.

a) he can pay just the amount required by Lord Clyde's 'Taxing Statutes'.
b) he can avoid paying by nefarious means.
c) he can donate more than is required.

Some folk bang on about the 'big end of town', the businesses and banks as though they mattered to the average man (and some women) who pay income taxes, which are, of course, much closer to home. That 'Big End' take full acount of a) above, often moving to various 'offshores' for taxation purposes, but to little avail as eventually their 'profits' end up back in their pockets for which the taxman cometh.

The great unwashed rent-a-crowd are often in the front line of 'protest' about 'business', even while communicating between themsleves on their iPhones, having ridden to the place of protest on busses made by corporations, along roads paid for and built by average working chaps. These yobbos do not pay tax at all of course, relying on the coerced generosity of the working chap (and occasional chapess). Many are 'students', often for a very long time. Almost as long as their hair.

Not a taxpayer in view.
Do they see the Irony of their sign?
They even have 'leaders' who are themselves really quite 'rich' which is a bit rich to the average chap.

Russell Brand is one such hypocrit. He is forever casting himself as a friend of the downtrodden poor whilst sitting on his pile of  UKP15 MILLION personal bank balance.

Mr Brand, the 'comedian' with a penchant for leaving filthy messages on other people's telephone answering machines and for being paid a fortune courtesy of the long-suffering (from his comedy) BBC TV Licence payers, could of course afford to exercise his generosity by option c) above, but has a ready excuse always at hand.

Mr Brand rents a home. UKP 8000 a month, a price which would fit nicely in his big mouth and could house at least ten other families but unfortunately his largesse simply pushes up the rents all around him so that those ten families cannot afford one.

Even the left media in Oz, out there in Hilary's Village see Brand as a joke:
Brand's ideas are those of a spoiled narcissist. Where he doesn't understand something, he makes a show of his ignorance (in fact, he makes a virtue of it). History is a joke. Other countries are a joke. The only subject Brand takes seriously is himself, and woe betide the commentator who suggests that his newfound revolutionary principles may be inconsistent with his lavish lifestyle, since it is for this critic that Brand reserves his only flashes of real anger. Everyone else - even the scumbags of IS - just need a bit more love in their lives 

But we did get Adam Creighton speaking up in the Oz bar the other day. He put some facts and analysis on the bartop for all to examine.

He said, very loudly...
No, the rich don’t pay a ‘fair share’ of tax. 
They pay all of it.
That raised a few eyebrows !
THE degree of ignorance about the distribution of tax across households is remarkable, especially given that the truth is so easily and freely accessible. For politicians perhaps it is wilful; the facts suit neither side.
The Left typically tries to create the impression the “rich” aren’t paying their “fair share”. Consider former treasurer Wayne Swan’s attacks on “mining billionaires” and (the) welfare groups’ continual prattling about the financial benefit of concessional super taxation to high-income earners.
The Right, meanwhile, evokes the ordinary, “battling” taxpayer, whose hard-won earnings, so the argument goes, are siphoned off to pay for inefficient or ineffective government programs.
But the overwhelming bulk of people in Australia pay no net tax at all. 
High-income earners have become a giant pinata that the majority hit for extra money to pay for whatever new social spending programs the political class proposes to stay in office.
Our constitutional democracy, rather than safeguarding a set of inviolable tax rules applied under the rule of law, has become an elaborate mechanism for extracting resources from a small minority for the much larger majority. 
A crude summary might be “pay up or else”.
Only the top fifth of households ranked by their income - those with incomes of more than $200,000 a year in the financial year ending June 2012 - pay anything into the system net of the value of social security in cash and kind received, according to data from the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics survey of household income.
The distribution of personal income tax - the federal government’s biggest source of revenue, raising about 45 per cent of the total ($165 billion this year) - is far more progressive than headline marginal tax rates suggest. 
Including the 1.5 per cent Medicare levy, Australia’s income tax rates range from 19 per cent for every dollar of income above $18,200 to 46.5 per cent for every dollar above $180,000. Most taxpayers face a 34.5 per cent marginal rate.
The army of taxpayers.
But average income tax rates on households’ privately generated income (ordinarily wages and salaries, but dividends and rental income too) ranged from 1.5 per cent for the bottom fifth of households in 2012 to 22 per cent for the top fifth.
The 1.73 million households in the middle quintile paid an average tax rate of 12.3 per cent on average incomes of $88,900. 
But the ABS survey estimates these households received $31 a week in Age Pension payments, $13 in disability payments, $48 in child-related payments and $12 in unemployment benefits, along with a host of others that whittle their average net tax payments down to $84 a week.
This sort of analysis excludes the value of government benefits beyond cash: “free” schools, hospitals, public transport and the like, which the ABS estimated to be $413 a week for these middle-ranked households. 
Netting everything off shows even “average”, let alone lower-income, households got back $2.70 for every $1 they paid in tax. 
Households in the bottom quintile enjoyed benefits worth more than 320 times what they paid in tax 
compared with about 10 times for those in the second-lowest quintile.
Notwithstanding the enormous variation in the circumstances of individuals and households within each of these five buckets - for instance, childless, healthy workers will pay in much more than unemployed families with sick children - the disparities are as remarkable as they are little-known.
Factoring in payment of “regressive” taxes such as the GST and tobacco and alcohol excise doesn’t appear to alter the overall picture. Every six or so years the ABS painstakingly distributes the burden of these “taxes on production” across households, based on estimated consumption patterns.
In the financial year ending June 2010, what one might call “holistic average tax rates” (including indirect and direct taxes and net of social security in cash and kind) ranged from -64 per cent for the bottom quintile, to -22 per cent for median households and +13 per cent for the top fifth of households.
Put simply, only the top fifth of households paid any tax. 
The bottom 6.9 million households, while often incurring income tax liabilities and regularly paying GST, received more in cash welfare and services than they paid in.
And it gets worse. We get now to the bureaucracy. These people pay taxes too, but wait, their pay is paid-for by taxes. !  Whatthe.... 
The concentration of the tax burden on higher-income earners would be starker still if the many tens of thousands of senior local, state and federal public servants - whose salaries often exceed $200,000 a year - were considered a cost. 

One could argue that the taxes paid by workers whose jobs depend on taxing other workers are akin to a cash refund to everyone else, rather than an organic contribution.
Cash refund perhaps. I would call it an extorted burden. Especially as we have in Oz a 'government' workforce that almost reaches 25% of the working population when you consider federal, State and Local Guvmunt, hospitals, police, armed forces etc. They are all paid from taxes paid in by productive workers. One could argue, as he does that many of them are essential to a sound society - doctors for instance and the military and police - but many others are simply in 'make-work'. 

They 'consume' tax.

Add to these parasitic hordes the growth in the secondary parasite sector. 

Taxes are 'deployed' to a vast army of NGOs whose 'Directors' are paid in the hundreds of thousands of dollars too. Some do some good: most are simply part of the victim industry and not only syphon off enormous amounts to pay themselves (the White Ribbon campaign is just one but a classic example who spend not a single dollar on the domestic violence victims they purport to represent) but spend substantial proportions of it on lobbying guvmunt for more !!
Do not even think about violence against anyone but women.
Just feel guilty and tell the Guvmunt to give us your money.
 Just today the Finance Minister announced the dismissal of nearly two hundred useless and wasteful 'organisations' that could only be paid for by taxpayers because the 'beneficiaries' would never be bothered to pay for them themselves. For example the 'Gay and Lesbian and Transgendered Working Group'

 What the Eff is that?  And why should YOU pay for it?
It is absurd to claim the “rich” - assuming incomes rather than wealth are the defining criterion - aren’t paying their “fair share” of tax when they in fact pay all of it. 
Equally, to argue that the “average” worker is subsidising government folly is difficult given that their aggregate benefits exceed the tax they pay.
Based on income tax returns from the 2010-11 financial year, the top 1 per cent of individual income earners - who in the 2010-11 tax year were those with taxable incomes of more than $281,800 a year - paid $23.55bn or 17.7 per cent of the total income tax haul, up from 17 per cent in 2009-10.
Meanwhile, the top 10 per cent of taxpayers - with taxable incomes of more than $105,500 - paid 46 per cent, up from 45.3 per cent a year earlier. The bottom third paid less than 5 per cent in both periods.
The highly and increasingly progressive nature of Australia’s tax burden is clear, but why?
First, income tax becomes more progressive every year without any deliberate change because of what economists call “fiscal drag”. Because the income tax thresholds are fixed in nominal terms and prices tend to rise, every year more taxpayers are pushed into ever-higher tax brackets and larger portions of their real incomes are taxed at higher rates.
Also, most people earn relatively little. While the ABS reports that average annual earnings for individuals were $74,000 a year last May, this figure doesn’t reflect typical circumstances because the “average” is an irrelevant socio-economic metric, increasingly undermined by rare but very large individual incomes. According to the 2011 census, the median household income, which is unaffected by outliers, was only $64,100.
Within advanced countries, the distribution of incomes has become more and more skewed since the 1980s, albeit less rapidly here than in the US and Britain. Economists debate vigorously whether this is because globalisation has boosted the financial returns to innovation, talent and skilled work, or whether the corporate (especially the finance) sector has become more skilled at extracting income at the expense of everyone else (”rent seeking”).
Business are pussies at this compared to the thousands of feminist organisations. 
Regardless, burgeoning incomes at the top have given governments a lucrative and politically attractive revenue source. Both major political parties in Australia have been able to promise extra, vote-winning government spending that increasingly overwhelms growth in taxes paid by the vast bulk of the population.
The Labor government’s decision to lift the Medicare levy to 2 per cent from this July to partly pay for the forthcoming disability insurance scheme is a good recent example. For its part, the Coalition wants to impose a temporary “levy” on big companies’ profits (which will reduce dividend income flowing to upper-income earners) to pay for its paid parental leave scheme.
The massive disparity between gross and net payments of tax - 12.6 million people lodged income tax returns in 2010-11 - suggests...
“churn” is rampant
and an immensely complex system is rife for rationalisation: we have more than 100 different taxes across three tiers of government interacting with a multitude of social security services in cash and kind.
The administrative costs of collecting taxes - especially income tax - are large, not to mention the damage they cause to enterprise and effort.
Don't be fooled. There are more than one Tax Collector.
Cutting cash social security along with the first few marginal income tax rates, for instance, would create a more honest tax system and prompt a virtuous cycle of reducing welfare dependency, boosting employment to boot. By converting “in-kind” social security to cash, state governments could provide parents with a voucher to spend on schools administered in the private sector, would help to boost transparency.
Only a tiny share of the population were eligible for the very low rates of income tax that emerged in English-speaking countries in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. While the scope and size of governments have soared since then, the price of civilisation still, rightly, falls disproportionately on the richest.
The distribution of tax is not the problem but its growth as a share of national income is (along with undue focus on income rather than wealth as the determinant of someone’s capacity to pay).
Critics tend to argue that ever-greater taxes drive economic activity overseas and reduce the incentive to work, undermining growth. These are valid arguments but they do not answer the question of what is the most desirable “inequality-economic growth” trade-off.
No number of studies showing that rising tax rates stifle growth, however statistically persuasive, will match glib, emotional arguments that the “rich” can “afford” to pay, so we should make them. 
The moral case for fixed, reasonable taxes may resonate more than the pure economic one. Arbitrary increases in taxes to pay for services the market can and should provide offend the rule of law and erode individual property rights.
Now you know. 

Oh and about the women that were mentioned in passing.  Someone is bound to ask. 

The feminists say that women are not represented in the high earner group. It stands to reason and measure then that they therefore pay less in taxation. 

They also say that women are only paid at 77c in the dollar. Again, that means they pay far less in taxes, especially in our 'progressive' progressive tax system.

Women are overwhelmingly 

net beneficiaries of taxation. 

Taxation upon Men. 

I resisted getting the good Mr Creighton started on upon whom the vast majority of the 'social benefit' is spent. You can guess.

Drink up.



  1. Interesting summary, shall link now.

  2. They intend to tax us all to death. They tax you when you buy the car, every year when you DRIVE the car, and when you sell the car. It's the same in everything. The song "Taxman" by the Beatles had it right.

    Obamacare: is a Tax.

    As for Russell Brand, you're right. Nobody pays any attention to him. Nobody goes to see his movies. He's just another Michael Moore.

    I think he should get together with Lady Gaga, and start dressing his part.

    1. And 'fees', licences, fines, 'stamp duties - which is so close to baksheesh as to not be discernible when we look at different national corruption levels. Then there are 'water rights' and taxes on ponds which contain water that 'would have run off' into the rivers that the guvmunt insists it owns. Then there are 'excise duties' on things like petrol which not only has tax applied but GST to that tax! And tobacco which while the argument goes is a tax to 'offset' health costs actually raises FOUR times as much tax as is spent on tobacco related health services. The government is in the business that used to be reserved for Robber Barons. At least they only came once a year to raid your pig sty and hen house..


Ne meias in stragulo aut pueros circummittam.

Our Bouncer is a gentleman of muscle and guile. His patience has limits. He will check you at the door.

The Tavern gets rowdy visitors from time to time. Some are brain dead and some soul dead. They attack customers and the bar staff and piss on the carpets. Those people will not be allowed in anymore. So... Be Nice..