Selfies – No, not that kind

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We’d all agree that self-discipline is the best kind of discipline; self-control is the best kind of control; and a degree of self-respect is necessary to win the respect of others.

But self-regard, self-importance, self-satisfaction and self-aggrandisement are to be treated with suspicion. So too, in the world of business anyway, are self-regulation and self-assessment.

This brings me to today’s stroppy-maker: a story in the Sydney Morning Herald about alleged rorting of an Australian tax-break for research and development – a tax-break that involves paying ‘tax offsets’ totalling A$3 billion per year. There is a list of R&D activities that qualify for these offsets.

The picture alongside is taken from that article. It shows Jamie McIntyre, one of the people against whom the allegation of rorting is made, a sum in excess of A$500,000 being mentioned.

“And how,” I hear you ask, “does the Australian Tax Office assess the validity of claims for these offsets?” Ah, well, there’s the rub. It seems the ATO relies on taxpayers to self-assess and, amazingly, some people are motivated by greed rather than an urge to add to the sum of useful human knowledge.

I’m sure you are amazed as I am – and as the ATO and the lawmakers who passed this piece of legislation must be. Who would have guessed that some people are prepared to tell lies in order to swipe an undeserved share from the public purse?

Let’s hope that this revelation – or allegation as I suppose I must call it – provides a valuable lesson in human nature to those who are responsible for managing honest taxpayers’ money.

The word ‘rort’ is an Australian colloquialism for a swindle; or, as a verb, to swindle.

Tax

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I just received a receipt from the Australian Taxation Office. It included a breakdown of how my tax dollar would be spent. It showed that 39% was dedicated to welfare, of which the aged (including Mrs SG and me) are easily the largest category of beneficiaries.

Another 18% of my tax dollars went to the 2nd biggest expenditure category: health. I don’t want to pick on the aged, but I think it’s safe to assume that we end up taking a disproportionate share of that too.

Given that the aged benefit from a proportion of all the other kinds of expenditure (education, defence, transport, public order etc) I reckon, very roughly, that the aged are getting 30% of my taxes. That seems a lot. I wonder whether the rest of my fellow-Australians can afford us.