Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday Fuckwit

There's a trend here, I seem to be going for organisations or governments rather than individuals but this week's Friday Fuckwit is the ATO. The Australian Taxation Office. Tax here is so, so, complicated. Frankly I'm an advocate of a flat tax rate 10% that's what I charge my kids in board . . .that way the everyone pays what they can. And the middle class as always, just muddle on. Instead, we have a graduated taxation system, a Goods and Services Tax (extra 10% on everything goodsy and servicy), Sales Tax (which was supposed to have been abolished since GST), Ecsie on alcohol, cigarettes and petrol, Stamp Duty on property purchases - for Christ's sake how much does whacking a rubber stamp on a changed deed cost? All I can say about our Government and it really doesn't matter which party is in power - is that there's a massive bureaucracy dependent upon a complex tax system. I am the first to put my hand up for free education and medicine and don't mind paying tax to fund such things but . . .

You know . . I am the Google Queen (bow down and pay me lip service) but no amount of Googling will tell me how many employees there are in the Australian Tax Office. No there aren't a bunch of nerds in some centralised underground bunker crunching numbers. The heavily accented ones are all over the shop. Although EVERY time I ring for a work related issue, I find myself talking to someone in Hobart, Wollongong, Taree, Newcastle . . no-one knows where that 1300 number will lead them and it ain't to Ms Dusky voice . . ."Call me . . .*deep sigh* call me now!"

Calculating income tax is proportionate and therefore complicated. You pay no tax for the first $6000, then a bit more for the next $30,00 then a bit more . . .

2008 Tax Rates:
0- $6000 tax on this income - none
$6,001 – $34,000 tax on this income 15 cents in the dollar over $6,000
$34,001 – $80,000, tax on this income
$4,200 plus 30c for each $1 over $34,000
$80,001 – $180,000, tax on this income $18,000 plus 40c for each $1 over $80,000
$180,001 and over, tax on this income $58,000 plus 45c for each $1 over $180,000

Then there's the drama of working out your deductions. If you're Pay as You Go, you're pretty stuffed because your employer pays for any likely deductions. But there are business deductions, charitable deductions, superannuation deductions, pension deductions, Health Care deductions . . .I'm sooooo, over-undeducted. If you're in your own business you have to lodge a quarterly Business Activity Statement (BAS) and annual IAS and no that doesn't stand for International Aids Society. Then there's the actual tax return where nobody tells you exactly what you can claim.

Sorry for the rant, I'm going through doing Clare's tax return which is going to fund her next voyage and today I've had numerous phone calls from an over zealous accountant who refuses to acknowledge that my Labrador is a guard dog and clearly doesn't know what Graphic Design is, let alone what can be claimed - she's driving me insane. Gooch you're a pooch . .where are you when I need you most. You got her a $3000 return last year and now you've abrogated all responsibility because Jem isn't your lover! Piss weak and poor form! You're not sliding on my slippy slide this January! You no-longer deserve a place at my sausage sizzle!

Can we all please just pay a flat rate. . . no deductions . . based on earnings . . .is that a bad thing or am I just a simplistic oaf . .please . .someone explain what the best tax system might be . . .

I think the Danes have it right. By taxing everyone, no deductions (with a few exceptions) they've reduced their bureaucracy (which is paid for via income tax anyway).
Despite high taxation, the economy is otherwise quite unregulated and Index of Economic Freedom ranks Denmark the world's 11th most economically free country (4th in Europe). From 2006 to 2008, surveys[1] ranked Denmark as "the happiest place in the world," based on standards of health, welfare, and education. In the 2008 survey, the Global Peace Index ranks Denmark as the second most peaceful country. Australians might reel at paying Danish-level taxes - they take 50 per cent of top earners' incomes. But hey, they're happy, educated and doing their tax returns must be a snack! Can I claim my obsession with Cirque du Soleil as an 'art grant' on tax?


Anonymous said...

HAHA your "Labrador as a guard dog" Baino? I work on the BAS every day, did the IAS but still pay a hefty amount for an accountant to surprise me with lots of reductions! Worth it in the end... Friday Fuckwit? Do tax on the weekends too! Have a sudden urge to scream...

Anonymous said...

Cant chat too busy doing return.....

Thriftcriminal said...

Seems similar to Ireland. Except those who really rake it in pay virtually no tax. Denmark has a much narrower spread of incomes (from joe blogs to CEO) and is less emotionally invested in "stuff" (according to the book Affluenza). I like the sound of Denmark I have to say.

Unknown said...

Erm, isn't it pretty much the same everywhere. Yours doesn't sound much different from ours which is less complicated than the UK version by all accounts.
The irony here is that the taxman sits with millions in his coffers that are not being spent and meanwhile the masses are getting antsy about government non delivery, all because they don't want to spend the fortunes the rest of us have to pay in taxes. I imagine, that as usual, they're saving it up for another presidential jet and a humongous party after the next elections.

Denmark sounds like it has it right.

Ces Adorio said...

Baino, first about rabbits. I've read in one of your comments that you are out after the rabbits. Well I read something yesterday in DRUDGE complete with the picture of the hero that an Australian couple was saved from their burning house by their pet rabbit. So think about making one of those rabbits a pet.

Taxation - there are two things that are guaranteed in life: Death and Taxation. I think mine is about 38% Federal tax plus 12% sales tax in NY and 8% sales tax in Texas. We also have hotel tax, estate tax, school tax, M.U.D. (water and drainage)tax, travel tax, city tax, cigarette tax, entertainment tax...and now my favorite of all - CARBON TAX!!! So there are now three things guaranteed in life according to the caretakers of earth:
DEATH, TAXATION and drumroll please...We are all going to melt and freeze to death but first please pay a CARBON TAX.

laughingwolf said...

we had our tax fun back in april, don't envy you at all :(

John said...

jeez, don't get me started on tax. Like you, great believer in flat rate, or do VAT only and leave it at that.

Prob is, all modern governments are completely hooked on our money and no one has opened a rehab centre for them yet.

Megan said...

Don't get me started. The sheer wastage perpetrated by our massive bureaucracy is staggering. Staggering. AND we still have to pay out of pocket for health care. Argh!!

Paddy in BA (Quickroute) said...

I worked in Denmark for a couple of summers and was shafted 50% tax every pay check but the net pay was still twice as much as I could've made in Ireland.

Anonymous said...

I think the UK system is less complex than some. You get a certain amount tax-free, then up to another amount is taxed 20% and then after that it's 40%. Fairly straightfoward (until you get into all the special exemptions and allowances etc). We used to also have a 10% tax rate but Gordon abolished it and there was a huge outcry. He hasn't relented though.

I'm certainly all for higher earners paying a lot more tax. The trouble is they can often afford clever accountants who manage to fiddle everything so they end up paying virtually zilch.

Georgina said...

The only sure thing in life and death and you pay it for both. Debs x Bon W/E

Baino said...

Anon: trying to get my head around BAS and IAS in preparation to become Drummer Boy's bookkeeper! Any kind of adding up makes my eyes bleed! I am without doubt numerophobic

Babysis I don't even understand what they're asking. Plus I have a Chinese goody two shoes doing my tax and she wants receipts and log books and all that good stuff Fwooaaar!

Thrifty I know a few. They're hard nosed types but love their system. Must get that book!

AV same here with a 6 billion dollar budget surplus! I guess they're saving it for the recession no doubt we'll have to have! I just wish they'd make income tax paperwork a bit easier and the list of deductions a bit more comprehensive. I had to ask my accountant whether Clare could claim for instance for attendance at Galleries . . .she should have told me that was deductible against her business.

Haha Ces. . I saw the Rabbit story over at Laughing Wolf's . . maybe I'm being a bit harsh! I have nothing against one or two but 100 is pushing the boundaries of friendship!

Trust me, you're taxed less in the US but from all over the place. Here income tax is centralised. We do pay GST which is a goods and services tax and a number of'hiddens'. We're facing carbon tax from 2009 but nobody's really clear on the detail yet. You're right tho . . death and taxes. *sigh*

Small consolation is social security, free health and education I guess.

LW ah I'm lazy, I pay an accountant cos I just can't be bovvered. Plus less chance of being audited with an accountant prepared return.

Haha! Ernest, nicely put . . .unlike real addicts, they don't buy their own 'gear' . . it's ours they're hooked on!

Megan I think that's one thing that the US needs to sort out, it's a hugely complex system and it's different in each state because you're a 'commonwealth' of states rather than a Federation. Frustrating for you . . .

Quicky is there anywhere you haven't visited . . man you get around! Yeh I believe their top tax rate is as high as 68% but their beurocracy is much smaller because everyone has access to social security ... none of this Centrelink means testing biz. It's all paid for and widely delivered. No wonder it's harder to get in there than Osama Bin Laden's Lair. My Danish friend's wife is actually over there at the moment learning the language and can't get residency . . tough if he decides to go back!

Nick that's true but then the higher earners tend to be business owners so they have more deductions. The real culprits here are foreign investors and business owners to manage to take their profits offshore and tax free . . .

Bon weekend to you too Debs, take care of that bruise! I don't mind paying tax, (as long as it's spent wisely by our various govts) just wish it was simpler.

laughingwolf said...

easy gif maker:

Bimbimbie said...

I'm a slave to the quarterly BAS and IAS and pay our accountant to make sure we aren't going to get any horrid surprises at the end of the year. Received one of the ATO's big bureaucratic letters last week telling us what they intended to do with us for not paying them said amount. F'Wits had received, banked BUT not credited our account two months before their flipping letter was even generated on their big fat computer. Call to the accountant to get situation sorted which will no doubt appear on their next invoice and for which I will claim back from the ATO for their stupid error.

Bring on the flat tax *!*

Melissa said...

Oy, taxes make my eyes cross. Good luck! And that photo is so funny. :)

Baino said...

Ooh thanks LW. I will play!

Bimbimbie, strange when they make a mistake, you're left sorting it out! If we make a mistake, the bill arrives toot sweet! Good luck recovering your funds!

Melissa . . numbers make me giddy which is why I use an accountant . . .I could just do with one who is a little more 'creative' I love a Lolcatz!

ashleigh said...

I work with a global company and they have an office in Denmark.

Let me tell you a few facts of life-and-tax there:

- totally free education from birth through university

- totally free health care


Tax rats are not flat, they are graduated, and the typical professional pays about 60% of their earnings in tax. Yes thats right, the marginal rates for the equiv of about A$60K are 60%.

Cars have very high taxes unless commercial vehicles. A holden Astra (Vauxhall / Opel there) will set you back about A$60K. About twice what you pay here.

And there is a GST.

So... perhaps be grateful for some of what we have. Its not all bad.

If you want a complete state-care system from cradle to grave, then fine, but a bit of being responsible for your own destiny aint always so bad either.

Actually, doing a plain Australian tax return using e-tax WITH deducations and no family trusts takes me about 1 - 2 hours. Its not a big deal.

Baino said...

Hello Ashley, welcome! Yes I'm aware that the top rate in Denmark is actually 68% . . helluva lot. I don't think I insinuated that the rate in Denmark was flat but . . what I like about their system is the way it funds social security for all and reduces the beaurocracy . .must be good because it's bloody hard to 'emigrate' to Denmark. And I think most countries these days have a GST equivalent. Big congrats on your tax return. One of my kids is straight up PAYG so it's not complicated. The other has her own business and it's a pain in the ass . .as for me . . I'm just numerophobic . .damn I wish you'd come earlier . .I'd have conscripted you to do my tax return! One consolation, we're nowhere near as complex as the US. Small mercies!