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Byron Shire
July 6, 2022

Cost of living and taxes

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Why is there so much interest in stats and percentages? How does the average house price or rent translate to the person in the street? What does four per cent unemployed mean?

Cost of living where we add together food, housing (rent or mortgage) and health and get a figure in plain dollars per week is a more accurate way to measure how the nation is travelling. Note I have left out many other needs including education and transport!

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) defines a person who is unemployed as one who, during a specified reference period, is not employed for one hour or more, is actively seeking work, and is currently available for work. Unemployment is a count of all these people.

The unemployment rate is calculated by dividing the number of unemployed people by the number of people in the labour force.

Our politicians dodge the bullet of how many people have the basic cost of living covered, not whether some have worked less than one hour. Many people struggle to get sufficient hours of work, with an adequate wage, to manage their basic living needs.

All governments rely heavily upon taxes to pay for our living standard, to protect our health, education, and provide vital infrastructure such as sewerage and water etc.

As the world has become more complex, so has Australian tax law. We now have more than 14,000 pages of tax law dealing with countless specific scenarios.

This law also is skewed, in many cases, to preserve wealth and creates many ‘loopholes’ to minimise and avoid paying tax, tax we all need for our standard of living.

Why should a young PAYG worker, who struggles to meet their cost of living, have minimal ways to lessen their tax, while a wealthier person, maybe a home owner with minimal debts can utilise family and discretionary trusts, negative gearing on investments and offshore accounts to slash their tax responsibility? While many people complain of their high, progressive tax rate, it would be interesting to compare their standard of living and investments to their actual tax paid.

Why can’t we simplify many tax laws by reducing some of these ’loopholes’? If wealthier people paid a more representative proportion of their income above basic needs we would have better services, roads, aged care, NDIS, health and transport for all.

More people should then be able to progress through the process of accumulating assets such as a home and, in turn, they will eventually be paying a larger proportionate share of the government’s tax bill.

Richard White, East Ballina


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