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McNotaxes

Unions put the bite on tax exemptions

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By the Working Life Team

Thursday, 25 February 2016

HOW is it fair that the richest people in the country — the top one per cent — pay little or no tax, while the rest of us contribute our fair share?

These are some of the taxing issues the Unions are putting to the Coalition.

And a new survey shows the unions aren’t alone.

The majority of Australians want an end to expensive tax exemptions and arrangements that benefit the rich, including concessions on capital gains tax and superannuation, a new survey reveals.

Unions warn the increasing tax concessions and exemptions enjoyed by the wealthy are crippling the economy, and taking money away from vital public services such as health and education.

Now, ACTU President Ged Kearney is calling on the Coalition to tackle a system that means 30 per cent of the 1,539 large public and foreign companies operating in Australia pay zero tax.

“These tax exemptions act like a massive hold on the economy,” says Ms Kearney.

“While many households struggle to meet rising costs, there is disgraceful waste in the tax system in the form of billions in tax breaks and special concessions for the rich.”

Multi million dollar companies — including McDonalds — are getting off paying an equal share of taxes.

“We need to cut loose these billions of dollars in taxes to free us up to invest in building projects that deliver better schools for our children, and allow our hospitals and health services to deliver quality care and support.”

Ms Kearney pointed out the wealthiest one per cent of the population, earning over $300,000 a year, use smart accountants to reduce their tax rate. This costs the public purse $2.5 billion revenue each year.

Ged Kearney-summit day one
“Seventy-five Australians who earned more than $1 million in 2011-12 declared an average taxable income of $1.09 – and spent an average of $860,000 each on tax minimisation experts,” said Ms Kearney.

“The better-off you are — the more properties you own, the more you can top up your superannuation savings, the more you can afford to pay for accounting services — the greater the benefit you receive.”

Meanwhile, official figures from the Parliamentary Budget Office, reveal negative-gearing costs the federal budget at least $2 billion every year.

“With just 10 per cent of Australians now holding more wealth than the rest of us combined, we need genuine tax reform,” Ms Kearney said..

And while some ­middle-income earners use negative gearing, 50 per cent of this windfall goes to the top 20 per cent of earners.

Ms Kearney said it would take guts for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to tackle tax inequality and a system that gives a tax-free pass to multi million dollar companies including ExxonMobil, Qantas and General Motors.

Ms Kearney called for urgent reforms to a tax system that’s taking most working Australians to the cleaners.

“Last year the cleaners at Spotless paid more tax than the entire company,” said Ms Kearney.

* A new ACTU poll shows a large majority of people want tax breaks for the wealthy scaled back, and 69 per cent support limiting superannuation tax exemptions for high-income earners.

Working Life is a forum to share ideas and opinions about work and life, both light-hearted and serious. The opinions presented on Working Life are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent policies or views of the ACTU.

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