ga('send', 'pageview');
John Passant

Site menu:

October 2011



RSS Oz House



Subscribe to us

Get new blog posts delivered to your inbox.


Site search


My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



How about taxing the rich instead?

Evidently class war has erupted at the tax forum, the neoliberal talkfest.

Jeff Lawrence, the secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, made the sensible point that Australia is a low tax country and that business didn’t come to the Forum with clean hands. Business? Clean hands? Their hands are in the pockets of their workers ripping off the value we create. They never have clean hands.

What Jeff was talking about was the neoliberal wet dream promulgated by the more gung ho sections of the bourgeoisie – cut company tax rates, shift the tax burden even more on to workers through increasing the rate of the GST and applying it to health, education and food, imposing land taxes on ordinary workers, and if that doesn’t raise enough, make workers pay by cutting Government spending on health, education, public transport and the like.

Of course not all neoliberals are extreme Friedmanites. The ALP for example wants to shift the tax burden on to workers but at the same time tax economic rents (but just a teeny weeny bit) to redistribute those profits to less profitable sectors of business. 

So what would a left wing tax program look like, a program under capitalism?

Here are some suggestions.

First let’s tax the wealth of the rich. How?

Making the tax system more progressive might help. 

‎According to the ACTU the ‘top’ 20% pay 34.5% of their income in taxes, the ‘bottom’ 20% pay 26.7%. Now remember that that same top 20% own 61% of the wealth and the bottom 20% own 1%.  A progressive tax system anyone?

Implement an inheritance tax. Apply the capital gains tax to their homes. Have a wealth tax of a few percent applied to their assets here and on estimates of their overseas wealth. 

Maybe tax the unimproved land value of holdings above a certain minimum level (say $1 million).

What about their income?

For companies, impose a minimum company tax on big business so that the 50 percent or more who pay no income tax pay something.

Get rid of the capital gains tax 50 percent reduction and all the small business CGT  exemptions.

Treat capital gains as income. That would include taxing non-residents on their Australian capital gains. At the moment, apart from land holdings, such gains are exempt.

Have a more progressive set of rates to soak the rich instead of flattening the rate as is going on at the moment. This would involve rejecting only 2 rates as Henry proposed (including his suggestion of effectively increasing the rate on people on more than about $37,000) and soaking the rich till their pips squeaked. It’s not that hard really.

Tax trusts as companies.

Halve the dividend imputation credit.

At the moment the tax system, according to Treasury, has a disguised grants regime which doles out $113 billion a year. it only collects about $350billion, although tax rorts by big business, the impacts of the global financial crisis marks I and II and our wariness to spend are seeing that fall rapidly.

We will soon spend more on tax grants to superannuation contributors and superannuation funds (with by and large the wealthy benefiting most) than we will spend on the pension.

Tens of billions of these disguised tax grants go to big business and  the filthy rich. Abolish them.

Impose a real economic rent tax on not just all mining companies (Labor’s pathetic Minerals resource Rent Tax compromise only applies to oil, gas, coal and iron ore) but to all companies making monopoly rents. Think big banks and supermarkets as well as mining companies.

These are just some simple suggestions to get the debate going.

None of this is on the agenda of the bourgeoisie, because what they want is us paying more and them paying less. Or us having crap hospitals, schools, public transport and the like. All as long as more of the value we produce goes back to them.

It’s time to fight the neoliberal tax agenda. Tax the rich.



Comment from Dally M
Time October 5, 2011 at 9:31 am

Read Kohler’s piece “Why the tax forum doesn’t add up” and you’ll see how futile your argument is. Not because “the rich” (who are they?) conspire to make it that way but because of political inertia. But it goes both ways. No-one even dares discuss raising the GST or increasing the goods or services it catches. And no-one appears interested in discussing the other alternative: reducing non-essential Government expenditure. “Neoliberal tax agenda”, what tosh.

Comment from Ross
Time October 5, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Is that $350 billion all taxes or that paid by the corporates? We have a $1.8 trillion GDP and our Govt does not even create the money for inflation of 3%.If the RBA was to create inflation money 3% + growth 3% we could reduce our taxes by $108 billion.

There is too much churning in our tax system.Let the people who earn money keep it.The Nanny State has failed.

Comment from Serious Wendy
Time October 5, 2011 at 5:17 pm

And do you plan to tax the rich by running adverts for the Commonwealth bank on your website?

Comment from John
Time October 5, 2011 at 7:29 pm

$350 billion collected by the ATO. Corporates pay from memory about $50 billion. I’d have to check.

Comment from John
Time October 5, 2011 at 7:29 pm


Comment from John
Time October 5, 2011 at 7:32 pm

I am quite prepared to discuss the GST. Abolish it and tax the rich and companies to pay for the shortfall. Maybe get rid of their tax system disguised grants. The rich? The 5% who own 40% of Australia’s assets. It might be more than that. Again, I’d have to check.

Comment from Ross
Time October 5, 2011 at 9:35 pm

The solution John is not to increase taxes on the people.Howard had to bring in the GST because Keating sold off the Commonwealth Bank.This bank was able to create some money from nothing to pay for infrastructure and public services.

Corporatocracy has convinced us that Govt cannot produce or be responsible.This is what they wanted for the sale of Govt assets and PPS scams.When Rudd did the stimulus via the school’s ,it was big OS businesses that profited.

Govt can do it right with a proper consitution.The function of Govt should be a referee in the basic functions of needs and wants in a free market economy,just like football.Govt should provide the level playing field (infrastructure) and the rules, but not be the player.

Currently we have a cartel of central banks who create all the money for Govt to function,calling all the tunes from wars of imperialism, CO2 taxes,cost of energy and what the media feeds us.

This oligarchy based on lies and deception,is an obomination on all our humanity.

In the USA, 1% own about 40% of the wealth.If they earnt it honestly, I’d have not quarrel with it.They stole it via counterfeiting the people’s currency and have the audacity to charge interest on it and request repayment their theft as a principal.It cannot get any worse!

Comment from Dally M
Time October 6, 2011 at 9:31 am

Abolish GST? Tax the rich? Nationalise their assets to stop $ flooding out of the country? What ARE you talking about, what utter nonsense.

Comment from John
Time October 6, 2011 at 10:40 am

Why is it nonsense? Could it be because it doesn’t fall within your neoliberal vision and so is there unacceptable. Different ideas challenge you do they Dally M? A yes – the capital strike or flight argument. All bow down to capital it seems, as it takes us hostage. That is what mining companies threatened too over the RSPT and the MRRT – and investment is at its highest ever. And Ken Henry, hardly a bastion of radicalism, talked about nationalisation of the mining industry as one option to win some of the returns from the super profits it generates. Of course he had in mind nationalisation by a captilaist government whereas I have in mind nationalisation under workers’ control, ie workers themselves taking over the mines and running them as part of a wider democratisation of society. I think a democratic society in which production is planned to meet human need can address that, if the revolution spreads to the developed world or major parts of it.

Comment from Dally M
Time October 6, 2011 at 2:14 pm

It is nonsense because it is propounded without any realistic examination of the likelihood of it ever eventuating. If you sincerely believe there is even a scintilla of a chance that some amorphous group of “workers” (whatever that term means) could/would commandeer the assets of some amorphous group of “rich people/institutions” (however they are defined), get to keep it then apply that wealth to some sort of utopian vision (of yours no doubt – are you perhaps a Czar in disguise) then you are not only delusional, you are sick.

Comment from Wendy
Time October 6, 2011 at 2:41 pm

I do find it interesting Mr Ross that while you and Mr Passant talk about banking cartels and taxing banks, you conduct your banter on a website that advertises one of the very same banks you blame for our economic woes.

Call me an old right wing uni toff, but isn’t it a bit rich (pun intended) to accept largess from the same institutions you cite as expoliting the workers and low income earners?

Comment from John
Time October 6, 2011 at 7:05 pm

Egypt now and earlier this years springs to mind. mass strieks in Portugal, Greece and Wisconsin earlier this year spring to mind. Just because there has been a one sided class war for the last 30 years in Australia doesn’t mean our side can’t and won’t eventually fight back. Why should I set my agenda within the narrow confines of the neoliberal possible and capitulate to Labor’s neoliberal vision? As the French said in 68 – Be realistic. Demand the impossible.

I find it interesting that your response indicates no sense of class and paints me as a Czar without one shred of evidence. It shows the intellectual bankruptcy of your world view that it recognises no difference and can only resort to insults and abuse to dismiss those who don’t share your narrow view of society.

Comment from John
Time October 6, 2011 at 7:10 pm

I don’t ‘blame’ banking cartels. I have nothing in common with Ross’s incorrect views. Ah, so there is advertising on my site. Damn, my whole argument falls apart. And guess what. I sell my labour power to survive. Presumably this condemns me to further criticism for accepting ‘largesse’ from the wonderful bosses. You have reached your usual intellectual heights Wendy.

Comment from Dally M
Time October 7, 2011 at 8:17 am

Not good enough I’m afraid, the Czar reference was admittedly intemperate but the point remains, outside of a democratically elected Parliament deciding where these lines get drawn you are not very credible. Automatically assuming I am neoliberal (what a tired old term that has become) tells me all I need to know about your own intellectual poverty.

Comment from John
Time October 7, 2011 at 11:59 am

So one can’t have ideas outside the mainstream? That seems to be the essence of what you are arguing. If it isn’t supported by Gillard and/or Abbott then it is per se ‘nonsense.’ Actually survey after survey shows Australians want Government to tax the rich more. I am with them. Yours is a very narrow and a very authoritarian approach. In fact until about 1 July 2000 the ALP also opposed the GST. Or wanted to roll it back. Since Parliament, your touchstone evidently, is the home of the two parties of neoliberalism, or 3 if you include the Greens, then your calls for it as the sole determinant of tax policy are actually a cover for neoliberal debate. It seems simple enough to me. Tax is contestable, the debates going on are basically differences among neoliberals as to the way forward and just because there are only a few who think like me now doesn’t mean that will the case forever. You should read my article ‘Australia’s carbon tax – the sweet and the sour’ when it is published very shortly in the Bulletin for International taxation, or my article Lessons from Australia’s resource rent tax experience when it is published later this month, or early next month, in the Canberra Law Review. Or maybe come along to the tax conference I am organising at the University of Canberra on 5 December called Tax Reform: Results and Prospects.

Comment from Tristan Ewins
Time October 7, 2011 at 3:23 pm

read this article on taxing the rich; good ideas 🙂 ; I am writing something similar myself now ahead of the December ALP Nat Conference.

Pingback from En Passant » A funny thing happened on the way to the tax forum
Time October 8, 2011 at 5:00 am

[…] Readers might also like to look at How about taxing the rich instead? […]

Write a comment