Tuesday, January 25, 2005

It's so big, Mr Treasurer!*

The tax deduction offered for the costs of managing your tax affairs is, of course, one of the most egregious examples of upper-class welfare. The public sector loses two ways: once, by encouraging people to use tax minimisation services, and twice, by paying people who might otherwise be gainfully employed doing something useful to provide these services. For the love of God, Montresor!

So I always do my tax myself. Some years it comes back covered with little notes telling me to tick boxes I forgot to tick, or provide documents I neglected to provide in my lackadaisical way. That's what happened this year, so I fixed it up and sent it back again. Thus my assesment arrived a few days ago, charging me interest of $105 on a tax bill of $778 or thereabouts- presumably charged over the two and a half months since the 31st of October.

I don't mind paying $883, since it is less than the tax bill I usually end up with, but it is a little embarassing having a government that is prepared to charged such Yakuza-like interest rates.

Dante put the usurers in the same circle of Hell as the Sodomites. Any halfway decent 14th century moral theologian could have made a convincing case for letting out the sinners whose sin was victimless, but nobody that I know of ever made any logical argument for freeing the usurers: they just kind of slipped under the radar. I know I would feel much happier living in a country whose leaders made up their budget shortfalls by producing gay porn, instead of engaging in the vile practice of usury. Then there would at least be the chance they might accidentally create something arty with enduring aesthetic value.

(* : The title refers, of course, to the budget surplus...)

6 comments:

Marco said...

I think that the idea with this interest penalty is to deter tardiness in tax preparation. Or in other words to give the shaft to the lazy. I have been in the habit for the last few years to wait until the last minute to put my tax return in. This is just as bad since I have been getting over $1000 back and they haven't been paying me the interest over putting it in early. Perhaps its a lazy way to get people to get in their tax early. They just couldn't be bothered calling people up and generally harrassing them.

Dave said...

Hmm. It's strange. I have no experience, much less comprehension of this issue. Perhaps it is because, like a goody-two-shoes girly swot, I have never been late to lodge my tax returns. For one, I like filling out the forms, and two, I invariably hold out usually-unreasonable optimism that I will get back a huge wad of ph4t lO0t, and if so I want it sooner rather than later.

That said, that's a pretty friggin' fierce interest rate. Maybe you should eschew the ATO and launder all your taxes through someone more reasonable, like a knee-breaking loan shark or something.

Dr. Clam said...

Maybe that is the real difference between 'left' and 'right'; that the 'left' is composed of people who actually like filling out forms? I would take an hour of backbreaking physical labour over five minutes filling out a form, any day of the week...

Dave said...

Uh, this may be speculation of the least informed order, but my guess is that you would find the left to be overwhelmingly comprised of people who hate to fill out forms - we've got greenies and hippies and animal liberationists over here, dude. You think they get off on handing The Man their personal details?

The reason I am such an aberration is that I like filling forms out because I'm good at it. I have an excellent memory for useless details (like my bank account/credit card/passport numbers) that other people would need to look up...

Dr. Clam said...

D'oh... You are, of course, absolutely correct. I certainly agree on the necessity of sticking it to the Man. Maybe the difference this highlights is the difference between 'lawful' and 'chaotic', instead...

Dave said...

Ayup.