Placeholder Content Image

10 ways to make those stage 3 tax cuts count

<p>You’re already used to living without these extra dollars. So, you won’t miss them by continuing to do so. Consider the various options available and which best suits your circumstances, then devise a plan of action to put that money to work.</p> <ol> <li><strong>Check tax brackets</strong></li> </ol> <p>Not only are some income tax rates falling, but the thresholds for others are increasing - potentially pushing you into a lower tax bracket.</p> <p>For example, Alice currently earns $130,000 and this tips her into marginal tax rate of 37 per cent. </p> <p>The Stage 3 changes will increase the 37 per cent tax threshold to $135,001. As such, Alice drops to a lower tax bracket. Not only this, her new tax bracket will have its marginal tax rate reduced from 32.5 per cent to 30 per cent. It’s a double win for Alice!</p> <p>This shouldn’t change your money habits but is still good to know.</p> <ol start="2"> <li><strong>Update your plan</strong></li> </ol> <p>Check <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/about-ato/new-legislation/in-detail/individuals/individual-income-tax-rates-and-threshold-changes">what your new tax rate will be</a> to calculate your new take-home pay (or simply look at your first full pay cycle in the new financial year).</p> <p>Plot your new income into your household spending and investment plan. Now you know what you have to play with.</p> <ol start="3"> <li><strong>Check your pay</strong></li> </ol> <p>Most employers use digital payroll systems which automatically update tax rates. But not all do. And even then, mistakes can happen.</p> <p>From July, double check that your pay is adjusted correctly. </p> <p>If you notice a mistake, speak up – not only will you and your colleagues benefit, but you could save your employer from costly penalties for an innocent mistake.</p> <ol start="4"> <li><strong>Monitor expenses</strong></li> </ol> <p>Don’t let ballooning expenses wipe out any tax cut gains. </p> <p>Avoid pre-spending those gains too. The additional income is spaced out over each pay; it’s not a lump sum you can blow on a spending spree.</p> <ol start="5"> <li><strong>Automatic redirects</strong></li> </ol> <p>Consider setting up an automated redirect of the difference in your pay as soon as it hits your account. </p> <p>The money could be diverted into a high-interest savings account or used to top up your emergency fund.</p> <ol start="6"> <li><strong>Super contributions</strong></li> </ol> <p>Tax cut cash can be used in combination with super contribution rules to supercharge retirement earnings.</p> <p>Low income earners may be eligible for <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals-and-families/super-for-individuals-and-families/super/growing-and-keeping-track-of-your-super/how-to-save-more-in-your-super/government-super-contributions/super-co-contribution">government co-contributions</a> while <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals-and-families/super-for-individuals-and-families/super/growing-and-keeping-track-of-your-super/how-to-save-more-in-your-super/spouse-super-contributions">spouse contributions</a> can offer further tax benefits.</p> <p>This may be particularly useful for anyone <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals-and-families/super-for-individuals-and-families/super/growing-and-keeping-track-of-your-super/caps-limits-and-tax-on-super-contributions/concessional-contributions-cap#ato-Carryforwardunusedcontributioncapamounts">trying to catch-up</a> after time out of the workforce (e.g., raising kids or caring for relatives) or repaying <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/about-ato/research-and-statistics/in-detail/super-statistics/early-release/covid-19-early-release-of-super">early withdrawals during COVID</a>. </p> <ol start="7"> <li><strong>Pay down debt</strong></li> </ol> <p>Every extra dollar spent paying off debt will save on future interest and clear it faster. </p> <p>Prioritise higher interest debts (like credit cards). Consider consolidating multiple debts into one with a lower rate (e.g., your mortgage) to reduce total interest and simplify repayments.</p> <ol start="8"> <li><strong>Invest in yourself</strong></li> </ol> <p>The old saying goes “you’ve got to spend money to make money”. Nowhere are the returns typically better than from self improvement.</p> <p>That could be undertaking new qualifications or additional training, enabling you to secure pay rises or transition to a higher-paying industry.</p> <p>Or it may be investing in your health and wellbeing, to reduce medical expenses, improve job prospects and productivity, and enhance your decision-making abilities (including about money matters).</p> <ol start="9"> <li><strong>Lodge returns promptly</strong></li> </ol> <p>This applies to every tax year: the sooner you lodge your tax return, the sooner you access your tax refund.</p> <p>Even if you’re facing a tax bill, getting it done sooner means less interest accruing and no late payment penalties.</p> <ol start="10"> <li><strong>Revisit strategies</strong></li> </ol> <p>While making changes to incorporate these tax cuts, take the opportunity to re-evaluate your overall finances. </p> <p>Revisit investment strategies to ensure they are delivering optimal returns. Check superannuation thresholds and performance. Scrutinise total tax liabilities (for instance, lower tax rates may mean you won’t qualify for the same level of tax deductions). Make updates where necessary.</p> <p>Keeping on top of your finances will mean better bang for your buck now while streamlining your affairs in future years.</p> <p><em><strong>Helen Baker is a licensed Australian financial adviser and author of On Your Own Two Feet: The Essential Guide to Financial Independence for all Women. Helen is among the 1% of financial planners who hold a master’s degree in the field. Proceeds from book sales are donated to charities supporting disadvantaged women and children. Find out more at <a href="http://www.onyourowntwofeet.com.au/">www.onyourowntwofeet.com.au</a></strong></em></p> <p><em><strong>Disclaimer: The information in this article is of a general nature only and does not constitute personal financial or product advice. Any opinions or views expressed are those of the authors and do not represent those of people, institutions or organisations the owner may be associated with in a professional or personal capacity unless explicitly stated. Helen Baker is an authorised representative of BPW Partners Pty Ltd AFSL 548754.</strong></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p>

Money & Banking

Placeholder Content Image

"Tax the boomers": Outrage over elderly couple's complaint after $1m Lotto win

<p>A "greedy" elderly couple have been rinsed online after complaining about losing their age pension payments after they won the Lotto. </p> <p>The couple, aged 73 and 67, wrote into <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/money/super-and-retirement/we-won-the-lottery-but-lost-our-pension-could-we-have-prevented-this-20240702-p5jqga.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>Sydney Morning Herald</em></a>'s financial advice column with Noel Whittaker to ask how they could've prevented losing the government funds and still kept hold of their million-dollar winnings. </p> <p>The couple's submission read, "We are a couple... both retired and receiving the full aged pension. We recently won $1,000,000 in the lottery and have placed that money in a basic interest-bearing savings account with our bank."</p> <p>"We intend to use that money to buy a new house and sell our existing one but may just renovate. The windfall has stopped our pension completely until we spend the money, which is all good and well. But could we have prevented the pension loss in any way?"</p> <p>Whittaker responded that the couple should consider themselves extremely fortunate and enjoy the money, saying they "could have a far better lifestyle living off capital instead of relying on welfare". </p> <p>He also urged the couple not "spend to get a pension". </p> <p>The boomers' questions quickly drew attention online, with many flocking to Facebook comments to slam the couple for their "greed". </p> <p>One person wrote, "If you won the lotto, why would you want the pension?", while another added, "Ah yes, the call of the boomers everywhere, 'I have millions but where's my pension money?'"</p> <p>Others said the Lotto winners should consider themselves lucky they are now able to provide for themselves, with one person writing, "Pension is a support system to allow you to survive without/reduced work in retirement. If you are a multimillionaire then you don't need it."</p> <p>Another person echoed the sentiment, saying, "Wow, what entitlement. The pension is a safety net, if you don’t qualify for it think yourself lucky."</p> <p>Other social media users simply shared their outrage towards the boomer generation, as one frustrated person wrote, "Won a million and whinging they can't scam the taxpayers, what self-centered arrogance", while another added, "Tax the boomers! No more handouts."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <div class="x6s0dn4 x3nfvp2" style="font-family: inherit; align-items: center; display: inline-flex; min-width: 604px;"> <ul class="html-ul xe8uvvx xdj266r x4uap5 x18d9i69 xkhd6sd x1n0m28w x78zum5 x1wfe3co xat24cr xsgj6o6 x1o1nzlu xyqdw3p" style="list-style: none; margin: 0px -8px 0px 4px; padding: 3px 0px 0px; display: flex; min-height: 15px; line-height: 12px; caret-color: #1c1e21; color: #1c1e21; font-family: system-ui, -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, '.SFNSText-Regular', sans-serif; font-size: 12.000001px;" aria-hidden="false"> <li class="html-li xe8uvvx xdj266r xat24cr xexx8yu x4uap5 x18d9i69 xkhd6sd x1rg5ohu x1emribx x1i64zmx" style="list-style: none; display: inline-block; padding: 0px; margin: 0px 8px;"> </li> </ul> </div>

Retirement Income

Placeholder Content Image

Why you should expect to pay more tourist taxes – even though the evidence for them is unclear

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rhys-ap-gwilym-1531623">Rhys ap Gwilym</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bangor-university-1221">Bangor University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/linda-osti-1431286">Linda Osti</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bangor-university-1221">Bangor University</a></em></p> <p>In April 2024, Venice began its controversial experiment to <a href="https://www.timeout.com/news/venice-will-charge-tourists-5-to-enter-the-city-from-next-year-090823">charge day trippers</a> €5 (£4.30) to visit the city on some of the busiest days of the year. But it’s not just the lagoon city, with its <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/travel/article/20230928-venices-new-5-entry-fee-explained#:%7E:text=Over%20the%20past%20three%20decades%2C%20Venice%20has%20become,thirds%20of%20visitors%20come%20just%20for%20the%20day.">30 million visitors</a> a year which is interested in trying out new tourism taxes.</p> <p>In the UK, a council in the county of Kent <a href="https://eur01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Ftheconversationuk.cmail20.com%2Ft%2Fr-l-tiuhhult-iukktlluuk-o%2F&amp;data=05%7C02%7Cr.a.gwilym%40bangor.ac.uk%7C39ac5db833674c1a026508dc63a24fa7%7Cc6474c55a9234d2a9bd4ece37148dbb2%7C0%7C0%7C638494795990617858%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C0%7C%7C%7C&amp;sdata=D6oVizx3pFoiwRaTcKaakQ079%2FIQx86jcbFpj2%2FS0RQ%3D&amp;reserved=0">has recommended</a> introducing a tourism tax on overnight stays in the county. In Scotland, it seems likely that <a href="https://edinburgh.org/planning/local-information/visitor-levy-for-edinburgh/#:%7E:text=The%20Edinburgh%20Visitor%20Levy%2C%20otherwise%20referred%20to%20as,would%20then%20be%20invested%20back%20into%20the%20city.">visitors to Edinburgh</a> will be paying a fee by 2026, and the Welsh government <a href="https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/welsh-government-announces-tourists-pay-26591498">plans to introduce</a> similar legislation later this year.</p> <p>Such taxes may seem new to the UK, but there are more than 60 destinations around the world where this type of tax is already in place. These vary from a nationwide tax in Iceland to various towns across the US. Some have been in place for a long time (France was the <a href="https://www.impots.gouv.fr/taxe-de-sejour">first in 1910</a>), but most were introduced during the last decade or two.</p> <p>Before the pandemic really struck (and tourism was put on hold), 2020 was described by one newspaper as the <a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/news/tourist-tax-amsterdam-venice/">“year of the tourist tax”</a>, as Amsterdam joined an ever-growing list of destinations, which includes Paris, Malta and Cancun, to charge visitors for simply visiting.</p> <p>Introducing these tourist taxes has often been controversial, with industry bodies <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-62707152">voicing concerns</a> about the potential impacts on the tourist trade.</p> <p>And it appears that the link between such levies and visitor numbers is not simple, with several studies reaching different conclusions. For example, some have suggested that tourism levies have hindered <a href="https://www-sciencedirect-com.bangor.idm.oclc.org/science/article/pii/S0261517704000238">international tourism in the Balearics</a> and <a href="https://journals-sagepub-com.bangor.idm.oclc.org/doi/pdf/10.1177/00472875211053658">the Maldives</a>, and that they may dissuade people from participating in <a href="https://eprints.bournemouth.ac.uk/35087/1/ADEDOYIN%2C%20Festus%20Fatai_Ph.D._2020.pdf">domestic tourism</a>.</p> <p>Yet in one of the world’s most popular tourism spots with a levy, Barcelona, visitor numbers have <a href="https://groupnao.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/TOURISM-TAXES-BY-DESIGN-NOV12-2020_rettet-compressed-2.pdf">consistently risen</a>, with hotel guests increasing from 7.1 million in 2013 to 9.5 million in 2019.</p> <p>In fact, the relationship between a visitor levy and tourist flow is so complex that there is no unified view, even within the same country. Italy has been one of the most studied, and results <a href="https://crenos.unica.it/crenosterritorio/sites/default/files/allegati-pubblicazioni-tes/Indagine_Villasimius_Quaderno_Crenos_ISBN.pdf">are inconsistent</a> <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/jtr.2123">there too</a>.</p> <p>Another study, looking at three neighbouring Italian seaside spots finds that only in one destination has the visitor levy <a href="https://www.rivisteweb.it/doi/10.1429/77318">reduced tourist flow</a>. And a study on the Italian cities of Rome, Florence and Padua shows that these cities <a href="https://link-springer-com.bangor.idm.oclc.org/chapter/10.1007/978-3-030-61274-0_23">have not experienced any negative effects</a> either in terms of domestic or international demand.</p> <p>So the impact of tourism taxes on visitor numbers is inconclusive.</p> <p>But what about other effects, such as the potential benefits of spending the revenues raised? As part of an ongoing research project, we looked at seven different destinations in which tourist taxes are levied to look at how the money raised is then spent.</p> <p>For most places, tourism tax revenues were being used to fund marketing and branding – so invested directly into promoting more tourism. The income was also commonly used to fund tourism infrastructure, from public toilets and walking or cycling paths to a multi-billion dollar <a href="https://www.occc.net/About-Us-Media-Relations-Press-Releases/ArticleID/569/Orange%20County%20Board%20Votes%20to%20Approve%20Convention%20Center%20Completion%20with%20Tourist%20Development%20Tax%20Revenues">convention centre</a> in Orange County, Florida.</p> <p>In <a href="https://www.caib.es/sites/impostturisme/en/l/projects/?mcont=95762">the Balearics</a>, revenues tend to go to projects that mitigate the negative impacts of tourism on the environment, culture and society of the islands. These include waste management, conserving natural habitats and historical monuments, and social housing.</p> <p>But in general, tourism taxes have been implemented successfully across the destinations we looked at, and there is little evidence of tourists being put off from visiting.</p> <p>Research also suggests that when tourists are told what the levy is used for – and when it relates directly to <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2227-7099/5/2/21">improving their experience</a> or <a href="https://ejtr.vumk.eu/index.php/about/article/view/2813/605">enhancing sustainable tourism</a> – <a href="https://www-sciencedirect-com.bangor.idm.oclc.org/science/article/pii/S2212571X20301621?casa_token=HcD-yQh65XcAAAAA:GhVRo4vX9JY1E3Lcx5ZPaTr5ZHArMGNrmK_2ASJCtMPjVpdCQLdun25BmFEYquGgz8-1riOWdg">tourists are willing to accept and pay</a> the levy.</p> <h2>Day trippers</h2> <p>For many tourism destinations, the major problem is not overnight tourists, but rather <a href="https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/fuming-snowdonia-visitors-demand-self-30203642">day visitors</a> who use local resources while making little in the way of a financial contribution. For these reasons, taxes might also be used to deter day visits and instead encourage longer stays.</p> <p><a href="https://www.economist.com/why-venice-is-starting-to-charge-tourists-to-enter?utm_medium=cpc.adword.pd&amp;utm_source=google&amp;ppccampaignID=18156330227&amp;ppcadID=&amp;utm_campaign=a.22brand_pmax&amp;utm_content=conversion.direct-response.anonymous&amp;gad_source=1&amp;gclid=Cj0KCQjw_qexBhCoARIsAFgBleshST3IQMYR8hONLSLnA_loj9dukAqxURhdVCn1RmGeD5iOQzw_r2caAsqrEALw_wcB&amp;gclsrc=aw.ds">Venice is at the forefront</a> of this shift. And in April 2024, after long discussions between the local authority, residents and business owners, Venice started a <a href="https://cdamedia.veneziaunica.it/en/video/it-is-difficult-to-book-a-visit-to-venice/">trial</a> of a day visitor tax (a so-called <a href="https://cda.veneziaunica.it/en">“access fee”</a>).</p> <p>Back in Kent, it may take longer for any such radical plans to come to fruition. In contrast to Scotland and Wales, there are currently no national plans to <a href="http://www.parliament.uk/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/commons/2023-09-13/199425">introduce tourist taxes</a> in England.</p> <p>This might be considered shortsighted, given the dire need of many destinations in England to improve local infrastructure that tourists rely on, including <a href="https://www.reading.ac.uk/news/2024/Research-News/Swimming-in-sewage-Bathing-forecasts-not-keeping-people-safe">clean bathing water</a> and <a href="https://www.lancs.live/news/cumbria-news/lake-district-warning-parking-issues-27173650">public transport</a>. In <a href="https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/business/finance-strategy/manchester-acts-as-trailblazer-for-tourist-tax">Manchester</a> and <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/0e0385e6-29ec-4302-9903-6fbf63d8854a">Liverpool</a>, businesses have implemented voluntary overnight charges on visitors, in the absence of the statutory basis to implement compulsory levies.</p> <p>Many other English towns and cities will probably follow their lead. Tourism taxes are something we might all have to consider budgeting for in our future travel plans, wherever we choose to visit.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/229134/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rhys-ap-gwilym-1531623">Rhys ap Gwilym</a>, Senior Lecturer in Economics, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bangor-university-1221">Bangor University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/linda-osti-1431286">Linda Osti</a>, Senior Lecturer in Tourism Management, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bangor-university-1221">Bangor University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-you-should-expect-to-pay-more-tourist-taxes-even-though-the-evidence-for-them-is-unclear-229134">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Travel Trouble

Placeholder Content Image

Australia’s tax system is being weaponised against victims of domestic abuse. Here’s how

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ann-kayis-kumar-466422">Ann Kayis-Kumar</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p>When women seeking financial help from the government-funded UNSW <a href="https://www.unsw.edu.au/business/our-schools/accounting-auditing-taxation/about-us/unsw-clinic">Tax and Business Advisory Clinic</a> are asked whether they have ever been affected by family or domestic violence, most say they have.</p> <p>In the past year this number has grown from <a href="https://cdn.theconversation.com/static_files/files/3339/sub009.pdf?1718777706">65%</a> to over 80%.</p> <p>And about <a href="https://ssrn.com/abstract=4746954">14%</a> of the clinic’s clients say their tax debts are a result of intimate partner violence. These debts often arise from business debts, bankruptcy, corporate directorships and director penalty notices.</p> <p>We know that economic abuse is a red flag for other forms of domestic violence. Economic abuse occurs in nearly all Australian domestic and family violence cases, affecting more than <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/people/crime-and-justice/personal-safety-australia/latest-release">2.4 million Australians</a> and costing the economy an estimated <a href="https://www.commbank.com.au/content/dam/caas/newsroom/docs/Cost%20of%20financial%20abuse%20in%20Australia.pdf">A$10.9 billion</a> a year.</p> <p>Unfortunately, existing laws fall well short of protecting abuse victim-survivors from financial loss.</p> <h2>How violent partners weaponise tax</h2> <p>The perpetrators of violence can effectively weaponise the tax system by placing tax debts solely in the names of former partners, often because they have made them directors of companies or through family businesses operating through partnerships or trusts.</p> <p>There is a policy assumption that family members benefit from family partnerships.</p> <p>But this does not always hold in practice and can be problematic when there is economic abuse because Australian tax law requires victims report and pay tax on their “share” of the family partnership’s income.</p> <p>The average tax debt at the tax clinic is about $90,000. This can result in debilitating financial burdens, exhausted savings, insecure housing and prolonged economic instability, well after abusive relationships end.</p> <h2>Change is needed</h2> <p>Australia has no specific strategy for relief of tax debts caused by financial abuse. There are “serious hardship” provisions in Australian taxation law, but these are outdated and in need of <a href="https://theconversation.com/sometimes-people-can-do-with-a-break-3-ways-tax-debt-relief-rules-are-too-tough-156948">reform</a>.</p> <p>Usually people do not have the funds up front so the only way the Australian Taxation Office can collect debts from the abused partner is through (generally two-year) payment plans, offsetting future tax refunds, engaging external debt collectors and initiating bankruptcy proceedings.</p> <p>To that end, the decision announced in this year’s budget to give the Tax Commissioner discretion <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/about-ato/new-legislation/in-detail/businesses/changes-to-offsetting-debts-on-hold">not to offset</a> against tax returns debts previously placed “on hold” is welcome.</p> <p>It will provide short-term relief by enabling abuse victims to get their refunds instead of having it used by the Tax Office to reduce their debt.</p> <p>Colleagues Christine Speidel, Leslie Book and I want this power extended to all <a href="https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4746954">forms of tax debts</a> not just for tax debts that have been placed “on hold” especially where the taxpayer is known to have experienced financial abuse.</p> <p>But this wouldn’t go far enough – the victim-survivors would still have the perpetrator’s tax debt hanging over them.</p> <p>Where this happens, financial instability can <a href="https://www.commbank.com.au/content/dam/commbank-assets/support/2021-01/unsw-report-key-findings.pdf">drive women back</a> into abusive relationships.</p> <h2>The US shows what can be done</h2> <p>Legislative reform to shift tax liability from abuse survivors to perpetrators is the key to helping solve the problem.</p> <figure class="align-right zoomable"></figure> <p>The United States has offered some form of “<a href="https://www.irs.gov/individuals/innocent-spouse-relief">innocent spouse relief</a>” since 1971. In 2011 it widened eligibility and <a href="https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-news/ir-11-080.pdf">removed a two-year time limit</a> for requesting relief.</p> <p>It is important to understand the US provisions apply because the country offers jointly filed “married” tax returns. In Australia tax returns are filed by individuals.</p> <p>Australia’s laws would need to change to ensure abused women do not find themselves jointly liable. Any changes should also include debts incurred in the name of partnerships and company directors.</p> <p>The US is the first and only country to do this, largely because of the advocacy of US low-income tax clinics over decades. Australia now has such clinics, funded as part of the Tax Office <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals-and-families/financial-difficulties-and-disasters/support-to-lodge-and-pay/national-tax-clinic-program">National Tax Clinic Program</a>.</p> <p>Australia’s adoption of US-style rules could provide a model for other jurisdictions, increase tax debt collection (as perpetrators are likely to have better capacity to pay than victims) and foster greater confidence in the Tax Office.</p> <p>Most importantly, it would acknowledge that victim-survivors with tax debts should not bear responsibility for debts incurred by perpetrators.</p> <hr /> <p><em>For information and advice about family and intimate partner violence contact 1800 RESPECT (<a href="https://www.1800respect.org.au/">1800 737 732</a>). If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, contact 000. The Men’s Referral Service (<a href="https://ntv.org.au/get-help/">1300 766 491)</a> offers advice and counselling to men looking to change their behaviour.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/232609/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></em></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ann-kayis-kumar-466422">Ann Kayis-Kumar</a>, Founding Director of UNSW Tax and Business Advisory Clinic, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/australias-tax-system-is-being-weaponised-against-victims-of-domestic-abuse-heres-how-232609">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Money & Banking

Placeholder Content Image

How to sign up for energy bill relief

<p>In the face of rising living costs, thousands of Australians have turned to their energy providers for financial assistance, highlighting the community spirit and support available during these challenging times. Energy companies like AGL Australia and Energy Australia are stepping up to help their customers manage their bills and find relief.</p> <p>AGL Australia has seen a significant increase in its financial hardship program, with 10,000 customers joining in the past year. Energy Australia receives 1,000 calls every weekday from customers seeking bill relief. These numbers reflect the proactive measures Australians are taking to manage their expenses and the readiness of energy providers to offer support.</p> <p>Crystal Noronha, who has worked at the AGL call centre for 11 years, has witnessed firsthand the growing need for assistance. "There's a lot of distress in their voice, there's anxiety," Noronha <a href="https://www.9news.com.au/national/thousands-of-customers-signing-up-for-energy-bill-relief-with-millions-more-eligible/9dc9535b-f94b-42f4-aeaf-6534dc898df2" target="_blank" rel="noopener">shared with 9NEWS</a>. "Some hide away from sharing their difficulties, but we're here to help them."</p> <p>Customers need not face extreme financial hardship to seek help, as everyone is eligible for some form of assistance.</p> <p>Gavin Dufty, from the charity St Vincent De Paul, underscores the commitment of energy companies to support their customers. "Every energy company has a legal obligation to provide support for all households regardless," Dufty explains. The assistance offered varies based on the provider and individual circumstances, ranging from bill extensions and more manageable payment plans to, in some cases, complete debt waivers.</p> <p>Adding to this support, the federal government is taking significant steps to ease the burden on households. Starting July 1, every household will receive a $300 credit into their energy account, providing substantial relief. Additionally, a free government website is available for customers to compare energy plan prices and find the most cost-effective options.</p> <p>These measures reflect a collaborative effort between energy providers and the government to ensure Australians can navigate the financial challenges of today's world. By offering practical solutions and financial relief, they are making a positive impact on the lives of many, ensuring that no one is left to face these difficulties alone.</p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

Money & Banking

Placeholder Content Image

Beware of ‘tax hacks’ to maximise your return this year. The tax office is taking a close look at incorrect claims

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ann-kayis-kumar-466422">Ann Kayis-Kumar</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p>For many people a tax refund is a much-anticipated lump sum of money.</p> <p>So, it is understandable Australians will be looking for ways to maximise their returns – particularly we are in a cost-of-living crisis.</p> <p>But, whether you do your own return or use a tax agent, taking risks is not advised.</p> <h2>Be wary of tax hacks</h2> <p>But be wary of “tax hacks” you might hear about from online sources (I’m looking at you, <a href="https://www.afr.com/companies/professional-services/tiktok-gst-fraud-hit-on-tax-office-blows-out-to-4-6b-20230813-p5dw2y">TikTok</a>). Two truisms spring to mind:</p> <p><strong>1. Don’t let the tax tail wag the dog</strong></p> <p>Many tax hacks suggest you spend considerable money on purchases up front to claim tax deductions. But a tax deduction isn’t actually worth the value amount of your spend.</p> <p>For example: let’s say you’re on a taxable income of A$60,000 per year, which puts you roughly in the <a href="https://www.afr.com/politics/how-wealthy-are-you-compared-to-everyone-else-in-eight-charts-20221214-p5c6a8">50th percentile</a> of income earners and means your <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/tax-rates-and-codes/tax-rates-australian-residents#ato-Australianresidenttaxrates2020to2025">marginal tax rate is 32.5 cents</a>.</p> <p>You might spend $1,000 on a purchase in the hope of getting a sweet $1,000 tax deduction. However, you’re going to be $675 out of pocket. This is because that $1,000 deduction is only worth $325 (because tax is calculated on your taxable income, which is assessable income less allowable deductions).</p> <p>It will be worth even less next year because of the introduction of the <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-02-27/stage-three-tax-cut-changes-pass-senate/103519338">revised Stage 3 tax cuts</a> and that’s a good thing because you’ll be paying less tax overall.</p> <p><strong>2. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is</strong></p> <p>Even if you use a registered tax agent (and it’s important to check they are registered by checking <a href="https://www.tpb.gov.au/public-register">the Tax Practitioners’ Board</a>), it’s a common pitfall to think any aggressive deductions they might suggest are their responsibility if the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) comes knocking. That’s not the case.</p> <p>Taxpayers are responsible for errors in returns made by their tax agents, so the ATO will hold you responsible.</p> <p>Indeed, the <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/media-centre/ato-flags-3-key-focus-areas-for-this-tax-time">ATO has announced</a> it will be taking a close look at three common errors being made by taxpayers:</p> <ul> <li> <p>incorrectly claiming work-related expenses</p> </li> <li> <p>inflating claims for rental properties</p> </li> <li> <p>failing to include all income when lodging.</p> </li> </ul> <p>It might be tempting to think you’ve got away with over claiming deductions or under reporting income but the ATO has sophisticated systems to <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/About-ATO/Commitments-and-reporting/Information-and-privacy/How-we-use-data-and-analytics">analyse your data</a>) and track your claims.</p> <p>You’ll need to substantiate your claims, so keep records. If the tax office finds mistakes, you could face <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals-and-families/paying-the-ato/interest-and-penalties/penalties/penalties-for-making-false-or-misleading-statements">financial penalties</a>, even jail time.</p> <p>Two months ago, a woman was sentenced to two years and six months jail and ordered to repay $39,600 after she lodged three fraudulent Business Activity Statements and received a GST refund to which she wasn’t entitled. While under investigation, she then sent eight false statements to the ATO and tried to claim more money.</p> <p>This is one on many individuals named on the <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/about-ato/tax-avoidance/the-fight-against-tax-crime/our-focus/refund-fraud/gst-refund-fraud-attempts/operation-protego">ATO’s website</a> highlighting the results of regular crackdowns.</p> <h2>So, should I use a tax agent?</h2> <p>There are nearly 20.5 million active tax file numbers registered to individuals in Australia and last tax year the ATO received 13.7 million individual tax return lodgements. This was a 3% increase on the previous year. Of these lodgements more than 5.6 million were lodged by self-preparers and more than 8 million were lodged by tax agents.</p> <p>It <a href="https://theconversation.com/does-paying-for-tax-advice-save-money-only-if-youre-wealthy-184641">makes sense</a> most Australians use agents to prepare and lodge their tax returns. It’s easier, less stressful, gives you confidence the job is being done right and saves time.</p> <p>Having said that, it does come at a price (see above on the value of deductions), and previous research which finds that <a href="https://theconversation.com/does-paying-for-tax-advice-save-money-only-if-youre-wealthy-184641">every extra dollar spent on a tax agent</a> only yields an estimated tax savings of 20 cents), and if you have simple tax affairs then it’s relatively easy and quick to do it yourself.</p> <h2>How do I prepare my tax return?</h2> <p>Generally, everyone should be lodging an income tax return each year (or, if you don’t need to lodge a tax return, lodging a non-lodgement advice). The ATO has a “Do I need to lodge a tax return?” tool <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals-and-families/your-tax-return/before-you-prepare-your-tax-return/work-out-if-you-need-to-lodge-a-tax-return">if you’re unsure</a>.</p> <p>It also has a useful <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals-and-families/your-tax-return/how-to-lodge-your-tax-return/lodge-your-tax-return-online-with-mytax">two minute video</a> which steps you through the process for lodging with their online system myTax.</p> <p>For those of us with simple tax affairs, you just need to follow these steps:</p> <ol> <li> <p>gather and prepare all your information regarding income from work, interest, dividends and any other income such as capital gains from crypto assets or sale of shares</p> </li> <li> <p>then gather and prepare all your information on deductions and work expenses to be claimed making sure you have the evidence to back up your claims. This can be in the form receipts, invoices, log books and diary entries</p> </li> <li> <p>if you are a self-preparer you can log onto your myGov or the ATO’s app to prepare and lodge your return. If you wait until late-July you’ll have the benefit of the ATO’s pre-filled data, too. This gives you plenty of time to make the October 31 deadline.</p> </li> </ol> <p>There’s also the option to use the ATO’s free, volunteer-run TaxHelp program (provided you meet the <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals-and-families/your-tax-return/help-and-support-to-lodge-your-tax-return/tax-help-program">eligibility criteria</a>), your local Tax Clinic (<a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals-and-families/financial-difficulties-and-disasters/support-to-lodge-and-pay/national-tax-clinic-program">details here</a>), or by seeking help from a registered tax agent. Just make sure you engage them before the October 31 deadline.</p> <h2>Where it might get tricky</h2> <p>But for others, for example if you have an ABN, it gets a bit more complicated. If you operate your business as a sole trader, you must lodge a tax return, even if your income is below the tax-free threshold.</p> <p>And if you have registered for GST – which you must do when your business or enterprise has a GST turnover of $75,000 or more, or if you are a taxi driver or Uber driver – then you will also need to submit quarterly BAS.</p> <p>It gets even more complicated for partnerships, trusts and companies, so it is best to seek the guidance and professional expertise of a registered tax agent, if you aren’t already.</p> <h2>What if I can’t afford a tax agent?</h2> <p>This year, many Australians are doing it tough. Indeed, research by the ASIC’s Moneysmart program estimates <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-06-04/asic-survey-millions-of-australians-facing-financial-difficulty/103926704">more than five million Australians</a> are in financial strife.</p> <p>Many people will find it hard to prioritise paying a registered tax agent when they cannot afford basic necessities like food.</p> <p>If you’re in this situation, you might find it useful to get in touch with a free financial counsellor via the <a href="https://ndh.org.au/">National Debt Helpline</a> or the <a href="https://sbdh.org.au/">Small Business Debt Helpline</a>.</p> <h2>Don’t procrastinate</h2> <p>Don’t put off doing your tax. If you’re behind, it might seem daunting to get back on track, especially if you think you’ll have to pay extra tax this year instead of getting a refund. But not lodging your returns will backfire. Like avoiding a trip to the doctor to get a skin check, the longer you wait, the more the problem will grow.</p> <p>Reaching out to the ATO is the key because they have tools to support you, including payment plans. It also shows the ATO that you are willing to comply. Ultimately, being up to date will save you fines, interest and penalties.</p> <p>If you are one of the <a href="https://theconversation.com/worried-youll-lodge-a-late-tax-return-at-least-80-000-australians-cant-afford-tax-advice-211267">80,000 Australians in serious hardship</a> who need but can’t afford professional help to complete and lodge overdue returns, the government-funded <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/General/Gen/National-Tax-Clinic-program/">National Tax Clinics Program</a> can help with free tax advice.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/231693/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ann-kayis-kumar-466422">Ann Kayis-Kumar</a>, Associate Professor Ann Kayis-Kumar is the Founding Director of UNSW Tax and Business Advisory Clinic, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/beware-of-tax-hacks-to-maximise-your-return-this-year-the-tax-office-is-taking-a-close-look-at-incorrect-claims-231693">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Money & Banking

Placeholder Content Image

Australia can afford to bulk bill all GP visits. So why don’t we?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/yuting-zhang-1144393">Yuting Zhang</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/karinna-saxby-1045932">Karinna Saxby</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p>Being able to afford health care is a <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/media-centre/media-releases/more-people-putting-seeing-health-professionals-due-cost">pressing issue</a> for many Australians. And encouraging GPs to bulk bill is <a href="https://theconversation.com/cheaper-medicines-and-a-new-approach-for-mental-health-care-will-the-budget-make-us-healthier-229612">one measure</a> the government is taking to ease the strain.</p> <p>So what would it take for GPs to bulk bill everyone? In our <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1467-8462.12553">recent paper</a>, we calculated this is possible and affordable, given the current health budget.</p> <p>But we show recent incentives for GPs to bulk bill aren’t enough to get us there.</p> <p>Instead, we need to adjust health policies to increase bulk-billing rates and to make our health system more sustainable.</p> <h2>How do the incentives work?</h2> <p>In recent years, the government has introduced various incentives to try and encourage GPs to bulk bill (so patients pay nothing out-of-pocket).</p> <p>The most recent has been the “<a href="https://www.health.gov.au/our-work/increases-to-bulk-billing-incentive-payments#1-november-2023-changes">triple bulk-billing incentives</a>” or “triple bonus” for short. These have been in place since November 2023.</p> <p>Under these incentives, GPs in metropolitan areas are paid a A$20.65 bonus if they bulk bill concession card holders or children under 16 years. GPs in rural and remote areas are paid $31.35-$39.65 extra. These bonus payments are in addition to regular Medicare rebates GPs receive.</p> <p>But when we looked at whether these latest incentives are likely to work to boost bulk billing, we found a city-country divide.</p> <h2>City GPs may not be convinced</h2> <p>We worked out the triple bonus will not help most people in metropolitan areas.</p> <p>That’s because in these areas the bonus is much lower than what patients currently pay out-of-pocket. In other words, if GPs did bulk bill these groups, their income would be lower than what they could have charged. So the bonus wouldn’t be enough incentive for them to bulk bill.</p> <p>For example, we found in greater Melbourne, the average out-of-pocket costs for a non-bulk billed GP visit <a href="https://melbourneinstitute.unimelb.edu.au/research/HALE-Hub/data">is about</a> $30-$56 depending on the suburb. This is much higher than the $20.65 triple bonus amount in metropolitan regions. We see similar patterns across all metropolitan areas.</p> <h2>But country GPs may be swayed</h2> <p>The picture is different in rural and remote areas. Here, the average out-of-pocket cost for a non-bulk billed GP visit <a href="https://melbourneinstitute.unimelb.edu.au/research/HALE-Hub/data">varies substantially</a> – around $28-52 in rural regions and $32-123 in remote areas. The highest cost on the mainland was $79 but GP visits on Lord Howe Island were the most expensive overall, at $123.</p> <p>For patients living in areas where their actual payment is less than the bonus amount, the incentive does help. In other words, it would be financially advantageous for GPs to bulk bill these patients, but not where the out-of-pocket costs are higher than the bonus.</p> <p>Our <a href="https://melbourneinstitute.unimelb.edu.au/research/HALE-Hub/data">online map</a> shows where GPs are most likely to bulk bill. The map below shows how out-of-pocket costs vary around Australia.</p> <p><iframe id="SPzgj" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/SPzgj/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <h2>How about bulk billing for all?</h2> <p>The picture is a little more complex when we start talking about bulk billing all GP visits – regardless of location or patients’ concession card status.</p> <p>We worked out this would cost about $950 million a year for all GP services, or $700 million a year for face-to-face GP consultations.</p> <p>This is within reach under the current budget, especially for face-to-face GP consultations.</p> <p>The government has earmarked <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/ministers/the-hon-mark-butler-mp/media/budget-2023-24-building-a-stronger-medicare#:%7E:text=%243.5%20billion%20in%20bulk%20billing,40%2Dyear%20history%20of%20Medicare">$3.5 billion</a> over <a href="https://archive.budget.gov.au/2023-24/bp2/download/bp2_2023-24.pdf">five years</a> for the “triple bonus” incentives. That’s $700 million a year.</p> <h2>We can afford to, but should we?</h2> <p>Introducing free GP visits for all would require careful consideration, as it would encourage more GP visits.</p> <p>This might be a good thing, particularly if people had previously skipped beneficial care <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/media-centre/media-releases/more-people-putting-seeing-health-professionals-due-cost">due to high costs</a>. However, it may encourage more people to see their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1574006400801675">GP unnecessarily</a>, taking away limited resources from those who really need them. This could ultimately increase wait times for everyone.</p> <p>So providing free GP visits for all may not be efficient or sustainable, even if it’s within the budget.</p> <p>But paying more than $50 for a GP visit, as many do, seems too expensive and also makes the health-care system less efficient.</p> <p>That’s because primary care is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/primary-health-care">often considered</a> high-value and preventive care. So if people can’t afford to go to the GP, it can lead to more expensive hospital and emergency room costs down the track.</p> <p>So we need to strike a balance to make primary care more affordable <em>and</em> sustainable.</p> <h2>How do we strike a balance?</h2> <p>One, concession card holders and children should get free primary care regardless of where they live. This would allow more equitable care to populations who need health care the most. Bulk bulling children is a <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S016726812200292X#:%7E:text=Beside%20the%20benefits%20for%20the,and%20Kuh%2C%202002%3B%20Centers%20for">long-term investment</a>, which may delay onset of diseases, and prevent intergenerational poverty and poor health.</p> <p>Two, the government could also provide free primary care to all people in rural and remote areas. It can do this by lowering the triple bonus to match what GPs currently charge. Over time, GPs and the government can evaluate and <a href="https://www.auspublaw.org/blog/2023/4/the-civil-conscription-sub-clause-in-section-51xxiiia-of-the-australian-constitution-no-impediment-to-reform-of-medicare">negotiate</a> fair prices for GPs to charge. This can be adjusted in line with inflation and other measures.</p> <p>Three, the government can increase Medicare rebates (the amount Medicare pays a doctor for a GP visit) so patients not covered above only pay about $20-30 a visit. We consider this an affordable amount that will not result in more use of primary care than necessary.</p> <p>Four, the government can design a policy to reduce unnecessary GP visits that take away limited GP time from high-need patients. For example, patients currently need to see GPs to get <a href="https://theconversation.com/specialist-referral-rules-havent-changed-much-since-the-70s-but-australias-health-needs-sure-have-144506">referral letters</a> although they already have an established specialist for their ongoing chronic conditions.</p> <p>Five, the government can provide GPs funding needed to improve patient outcomes and reward GPs who provide <a href="https://bmjopenquality.bmj.com/content/10/1/e001127.abstract">high-quality preventive care</a>. The current fee-for-service funding model hurts good doctors who keep their patients healthy because doctors are not paid if their patients do not come back.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/230204/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/yuting-zhang-1144393"><em>Yuting Zhang</em></a><em>, Professor of Health Economics, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/karinna-saxby-1045932">Karinna Saxby</a>, Research Fellow, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/australia-can-afford-to-bulk-bill-all-gp-visits-so-why-dont-we-230204">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Money & Banking

Placeholder Content Image

A tax on sugary drinks can make us healthier. It’s time for Australia to introduce one

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/peter-breadon-1348098">Peter Breadon</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/grattan-institute-1168">Grattan Institute</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jessica-geraghty-1530733">Jessica Geraghty</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/grattan-institute-1168"><em>Grattan Institute</em></a></em></p> <p>Sugary drinks cause weight gain and <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41574-021-00627-6">increase the risk</a> of a range of diseases, including diabetes.</p> <p>The <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2792842">evidence shows</a> that well-designed taxes can reduce sugary drink sales, cause people to choose healthier options and get manufacturers to reduce the sugar in their drinks. And although these taxes haven’t been around long, there are already signs that they are making people healthier.</p> <p>It’s time for Australia to catch up to the rest of the world and introduce a tax on sugary drinks. As our new Grattan Institute <a href="https://grattan.edu.au/report/sickly-sweet/">report</a> shows, doing so could mean the average Australian drinks almost 700 grams less sugar each year.</p> <h2>Sugary drinks are making us sick</h2> <p>The share of adults in Australia who are obese has tripled since 1980, from <a href="https://theconversation.com/mapping-australias-collective-weight-gain-7816">10%</a> to more than <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/health-conditions-and-risks/waist-circumference-and-bmi/latest-release">30%</a>, and diabetes is our <a href="https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/about-diabetes/diabetes-in-australia/">fastest-growing</a> chronic condition. The costs for the health system and economy are measured in the billions of dollars each year. But the biggest costs are borne by individuals and their families in the form of illness, suffering and early death.</p> <p>Sugary drinks are a big part of the problem. The more of them we drink, the greater our risk of <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41574-021-00627-6">gaining weight</a>, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2963518/">developing type 2 diabetes</a>, and suffering <a href="https://academic.oup.com/eurpub/article/31/1/122/5896049?login=false">poor oral health</a>.</p> <p>These drinks have no real nutrients, but they do have a lot of sugar. The average Australian consumes <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/health-conditions-and-risks/apparent-consumption-selected-foodstuffs-australia/latest-release">1.3</a> times the maximum recommended amount of sugar each day. Sugary drinks are responsible for more than one-quarter of our daily sugar intake, more than any other major type of food.</p> <p>You might be shocked by how much sugar you’re drinking. Many 375ml cans of soft drink contain eight to 12 teaspoons of sugar, nearly the entire daily recommended limit for an adult. Many 600ml bottles blow our entire daily sugar budget, and then some.</p> <p>The picture is even worse for disadvantaged Australians, who are more likely to have <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/health-conditions-and-risks/diabetes/latest-release">diabetes</a> and <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/health-conditions-and-risks/waist-circumference-and-bmi/latest-release">obesity</a>, and who also consume the most sugary drinks.</p> <h2>Sugary drink taxes work</h2> <p>Fortunately, there’s a proven way to reduce the damage sugary drinks cause.</p> <p>More than <a href="https://ssbtax.worldbank.org/">100 countries</a> have a sugary drinks tax, covering most of the world’s population. <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2792842">Research</a> shows these taxes lead to higher prices and fewer purchases.</p> <p>Some taxes are specifically designed to encourage manufacturers to change their recipes and cut the sugar in their drinks. Under these “tiered taxes”, there is no tax on drinks with a small amount of sugar, but the tax steps up two or three times as the amount of sugar rises. That gives manufacturers a strong incentive to add less sugar, so they reduce their exposure to the tax or avoid paying it altogether.</p> <p>This is the best result from a sugary drinks tax. It means drinks get healthier, while the tax is kept to a minimum.</p> <p>In countries with tiered taxes, manufacturers have slashed the sugar in their drinks. In the United Kingdom, the share of products above the tax threshold <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1003025">decreased dramatically</a>. In 2015, more than half (52%) of products in the UK were above the tax threshold of 5 grams of sugar per 100ml. Four years later, when the tax was in place, that share had plunged to 15%. The number of products with the most sugar – more than 8 grams per 100ml – declined the most, falling from 38% to just 7%.</p> <p>The Australian drinks market today looks similar to the UK’s before the tax was introduced.</p> <p>Health benefits take longer to appear, but there are already promising signs that the taxes are working. Obesity among primary school-age girls has fallen in <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1004160">the UK</a> and <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/2786784">Mexico</a>.</p> <p>Oral health has also improved, with studies reporting fewer children going to hospital to get their teeth removed in <a href="https://nutrition.bmj.com/content/6/2/243">the UK</a>, and reduced dental decay <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33853058/">in Mexico</a> and <a href="https://www.ajpmonline.org/article/S0749-3797(23)00069-7/abstract">Philadelphia</a>.</p> <p>One <a href="https://www.ajpmonline.org/article/S0749-3797(23)00158-7/fulltext">study from the United States</a> found big reductions in gestational diabetes in cities with a sugary drinks tax.</p> <h2>The tax Australia should introduce</h2> <p>Like successful taxes overseas, Australia should introduce a sugary drink tax that targets drinks with the most sugar:</p> <ul> <li>drinks with 8 grams or more of sugar per 100ml should face a $0.60 per litre tax</li> <li>drinks with 5–8 grams should be taxed at $0.40 per litre</li> <li>drinks with less than 5 grams of sugar should be tax-free.</li> </ul> <p>This means a 250ml Coke, which has nearly 11 grams of sugar per 100ml, would cost $0.15 more. But of course consumers could avoid the tax by choosing a sugar-free soft drink, or a bottle of water.</p> <p>Grattan Institute <a href="https://grattan.edu.au/report/sickly-sweet/">modelling</a> shows that under this tiered tax, Australians would drink about 275 million litres fewer sugary drinks each year, or the volume of 110 Olympic swimming pools.</p> <p>The tax is about health, but government budgets also benefit. If it was introduced today, it would raise about half a billion dollars in the first year.</p> <p>Vested interests such as the beverages industry have fiercely resisted sugary drink taxes around the world, issuing disingenuous warnings about the risks to poor people, the sugar industry and drinks manufacturers.</p> <p>But our new report shows sugary drink taxes have been introduced smoothly overseas, and none of these concerns should hold Australia back.</p> <p>We certainly can’t rely on industry pledges to voluntarily reduce sugar. They have been <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/public-health-nutrition/article/trends-in-sugar-content-of-nonalcoholic-beverages-in-australia-between-2015-and-2019-during-the-operation-of-a-voluntary-industry-pledge-to-reduce-sugar-content/EE662DE7552670ED532F6650C9D56939">weak</a> and misleading, and <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2024/apr/10/sugar-increase-in-fanta-and-sprite-prompts-calls-for-new-tax-on-australia-food-and-drinks-industry">failed to stick</a>.</p> <p>It will take many policies and interventions to turn back the tide of obesity and chronic disease in Australia, but a sugary drinks tax should be part of the solution. It’s a policy that works, it’s easy to implement, and most Australians <a href="https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/9/6/e027962">support it</a>.</p> <p>The federal government should show it’s serious about tackling Australia’s biggest health problems and take this small step towards a healthier future.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/228906/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/peter-breadon-1348098">Peter Breadon</a>, Program Director, Health and Aged Care, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/grattan-institute-1168">Grattan Institute</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jessica-geraghty-1530733">Jessica Geraghty</a>, Senior Associate, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/grattan-institute-1168">Grattan Institute</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/a-tax-on-sugary-drinks-can-make-us-healthier-its-time-for-australia-to-introduce-one-228906">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Food & Wine

Placeholder Content Image

Australian churches collectively raise billions of dollars a year – why aren’t they taxed?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dale-boccabella-15706">Dale Boccabella</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ranjana-gupta-1207482">Ranjana Gupta</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/auckland-university-of-technology-1137">Auckland University of Technology</a></em></p> <p>There’s a good reason your local volunteer-run netball club doesn’t pay tax. In Australia, various nonprofit organisations are exempt from paying income tax, including those that do charitable work, such as churches.</p> <p>These exemptions or concessions can also extend to other taxes, including fringe benefits tax, state and local government property taxes and payroll taxes.</p> <p>The traditional justification for granting these concessions is that charitable activities benefit society. They contribute to the wellbeing of the community in a variety of non-religious ways.</p> <p>For example, charities offer welfare, health care and education services that the government would generally otherwise provide due to their obvious public benefits. The tax exemption, which allows a charity to retain all the funds it raises, provides the financial support required to relieve the government of this burden.</p> <p>The nonprofit sector is often called the third sector of society, the other two being government and for-profit businesses. But in Australia, this third sector is quite large. Some grassroots organisations have only a tiny footprint, but other nonprofits are very large. And many of these bigger entities – including some “megachurches” – run huge commercial enterprises. These are often indistinguishable from comparable business activities in the for-profit sector.</p> <p>So why doesn’t this revenue get taxed? And should we really give all nonprofits the same tax exemptions?</p> <h2>Why don’t churches pay tax?</h2> <p>The primary aim of a church is to advance or promote its religion. This itself counts as a charitable purpose under the <a href="https://www.legislation.gov.au/C2013A00100/asmade/text">2013 Charities Act</a>. However, section five of that act requires a church to have only charitable purposes – any other purposes must be incidental to or in aid of these.</p> <p>Viewed alone, the conduct of a church with an extensive commercial enterprise – which could include selling merchandise, or holding concerts and conferences – is not a charitable purpose.</p> <p>But Australian case law and <a href="https://www.acnc.gov.au/for-charities/start-charity/role-acnc-deciding-charity-status/legal-meaning-charity#:%7E:text=Taxation%20Ruling%20(TR)%202011%2F,set%20out%20in%20taxation%20rulings.">an ATO ruling</a> both support the idea that carrying on business-like activities can be incidental to or in aid of a charitable purpose. This could be the case, for example, if a large church’s commercial activities were to help give effect to its charitable purposes.</p> <p>Because of this, under Australia’s current income tax law, a church that is running a large commercial enterprise is able to retain its exemption from income tax on the profits from these activities.</p> <p>There are various public policy concerns with this. First, the lost tax revenue is likely to be significant, although the government’s annual tax expenditure statement does not currently provide an estimate of the amount of tax revenue lost.</p> <p>And second, the tax exemption may give rise to unfairness. A for-profit business competing with a church in a relevant industry may be at a competitive disadvantage – despite similar business activities, the for-profit entity pays income tax but the church does not. This competitive disadvantage may be reflected in lower prices for customers of the church business.</p> <h2>What about taxing their employees?</h2> <p>Churches that run extensive enterprises are likely to have many employees. Generally, all the normal Australian tax rules apply to the way these employees are paid – for example, employees pay income tax on these wages. Distributing profits to members would go against the usual rules of the church, and this prohibition is <a href="https://www.legislation.gov.au/C2013A00100/asmade/text">required</a> anyway for an organisation to qualify as a charity.</p> <p>Some churches may be criticised for paying their founders or leaders “excessive” wages, but these are still taxed in the same way as normal salaries.</p> <p>It’s important to consider fringe benefit tax – which employers have to pay on certain benefits they provide to employees. Aside from some qualifications, all the usual <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/businesses-and-organisations/hiring-and-paying-your-workers/fringe-benefits-tax/how-fringe-benefits-tax-works">fringe benefit tax rules</a> apply to non-wage benefits provided to employees of a church.</p> <p>Just like their commercial (and taxable) counterparts, the payment for “luxury” travel and accommodation for church leaders and employees when on church business will not generate a fringe benefits taxable amount for the church.</p> <p>One qualification, though, is that a church is likely to be a <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/businesses-and-organisations/hiring-and-paying-your-workers/fringe-benefits-tax/fbt-concessions-for-not-for-profit-organisations/fbt-rebatable-employers">rebatable employer</a> under the fringe benefit tax regime. This means it can obtain some tax relief on benefits provided to each employee, up to a cap.</p> <h2>We may need to rethink blanket tax exemptions for charities</h2> <p>Back in an age where nonprofits were mainly small and focused on addressing the needs of people failed by the market, the income tax exemption for such charities appeared appropriate.</p> <p>But in the modern era, some charities – including some churches – operate huge business enterprises and collect rent on extensive property holdings.</p> <p>Many are now questioning whether we should continue offering them an uncapped exemption from income tax, especially where there are questions surrounding how appropriately these profits are used.</p> <p>Debates about solutions to the problem have focused on various arguments. However, more data may be needed on the way charities apply their profits to a charitable purpose, particularly those involved in substantial commercial activities.</p> <p>An all-or-nothing rule exempting the whole charitable sector may no longer be fit for purpose if it fails to take into account the very different circumstances of different nonprofits.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/228901/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dale-boccabella-15706"><em>Dale Boccabella</em></a><em>, Associate Professor of Taxation Law, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ranjana-gupta-1207482">Ranjana Gupta</a>, Senior Lecturer Taxation, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/auckland-university-of-technology-1137">Auckland University of Technology</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/australian-churches-collectively-raise-billions-of-dollars-a-year-why-arent-they-taxed-228901">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Money & Banking

Placeholder Content Image

Cancer survivor slapped with $15,000 water bill

<p>An Aussie man has been slapped with a $15,645.86 water bill after the <span style="font-family: Inter, sans-serif; font-size: 16px; letter-spacing: -0.16px; background-color: #ffffff;">Goulburn Mulwaree Council </span>claimed he had used more than 35,000 litres a day over 104 days. </p> <p>Anthony, who lives on his own in the Southern Tablelands, said that his bill is normally around $290 and that he uses about 130 litres of water a day, the average amount a person would use according to Sydney Water. </p> <p>"A 15-and-a-half thousand dollar water bill, they can go and get themselves nicked," he told <em>A Current Affair</em>. </p> <p>"I'm not paying it, no way in the world."</p> <p>The local mechanic is a cancer survivor, but the disease has made it difficult for him to communicate, so he went to a council meeting with his father, Neil, who talked on his behalf. </p> <p>"I couldn't believe it when he showed me the bill," Neil said. </p> <p>"Currently now, we're at this point in stage where we can't get any reasonable common sense from the council.</p> <p>"I said, 'It's got to be the crook meter', and she said, 'We've had a lot of meters tested and they've all come back positive. </p> <p>"And I said, 'What about this meter?' and she said, 'It'll cost you $50 to have it tested but there'll be nothing wrong with it'."</p> <p>Anthony is accused of using more than 3.6million litres of water,  which is equivalent to filling two Olympic sized swimming pools - or having five taps running all-day. </p> <p>He has received multiple emails from the local council asking him to prove his claim. </p> <p>The local mechanic also said that he received an overdue bill notice ordering him to pay it immediately. </p> <p>"I got an email saying I can have a payment plan and all the rest of it... like, get real," he said. </p> <p>"I'm not going to pay it."</p> <p>Anthony uses his own water tank to water his lawn, fill his fishpond and wash his car, and only uses town waters to wash up and shower. </p> <p>He has been asked to prepare a detailed letter of his water usage, which will be presented at a council meeting later this month.</p> <p><em>Image: Nine</em></p> <p> </p>

Money & Banking

Placeholder Content Image

Kochie reveals the simple way to halve your grocery bill

<p>David Koch has revealed the simple trick to help you save big bucks at the supermarket as the cost of living crisis continues to hit hard. </p> <p>Kochie, who is the Compare the Market's economic director, calculated that Aussies can save up to $100 per trip to the grocery shop by making the switch to home brands. </p> <p>According to research of major Australian supermarkets, the average household can save big bucks by choosing not to buy well-known brands, which can lead to a saving of $5,000 per year. </p> <p>"So, when you're doing your supermarket shop, what's in a brand name? Well, let me tell you - plenty," Kochie said in a video posted to the Compare the Market Instagram account. </p> <p>"You are paying plenty more for that loyalty to a brand that you love."</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/reel/C57UwVrvSZ5/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/reel/C57UwVrvSZ5/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Compare the Market AU (@comparethemarket_aus)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>Compare the Market took to a major supermarket and bought 25 items from big name brands, and another 25 similar items from a challenger supermarket selling cheaper home brands.</p> <p>Based on substituting big-brand products for lesser-known labels, grocery bills would fall from $201.19 a week to $103.51, taking the weekly saving up to $97.68.</p> <p>"Now, multiply that weekly shop over a whole year and that's a saving of over $5,000."</p> <p>"Almost three return economy airfares to London."</p> <p>Everyday Aussies are continuing to struggle with the rising cost of groceries, with the price of bread and cereal increasing by 7.3 per cent in the year to March, an official monthly measure of inflation showed. </p> <p><em>Image credits: Instagram </em></p>

Money & Banking

Placeholder Content Image

Stamp duty is holding us back from moving homes – we’ve worked out how much

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nick-garvin-1453835">Nick Garvin</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/macquarie-university-1174">Macquarie University</a></em></p> <p>If just one state of Australia, New South Wales, scrapped its stamp duty on real-estate transactions, about 100,000 more Australians would move homes each year, according to our <a href="https://e61.in/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Stamp-duty-effects-on-purchases-and-moves.pdf">best estimates</a>.</p> <p>Stamp duty is an unquestioned part of buying a home in Australia – you put your details in an online mortgage calculator, and stamp duty is automatically deducted from the amount you have to contribute.</p> <p>It’s easy to overlook how much more affordable a home would be without it.</p> <p>That means it’s also easy to overlook how much more Australians would buy and move if stamp duty wasn’t there.</p> <p>The 2010 Henry Tax Review found stamp duty was <a href="https://treasury.gov.au/sites/default/files/2019-10/afts_final_report_part_2_vol_1_consolidated.pdf">inequitable</a>. It taxes most the people who most need to or want to move.</p> <p>The review reported: "Ideally, there would be no role for any stamp duties, including conveyancing stamp duties, in a modern Australian tax system. Recognising the revenue needs of the States, the removal of stamp duty should be achieved through a switch to more efficient taxes, such as those levied on broad consumption or land bases."</p> <p>But does stamp duty actually stop anyone moving? It’s a claim more often made than assessed, which is what our team at the <a href="https://e61.in/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Stamp-duty-effects-on-purchases-and-moves.pdf">e61 Institute</a> set out to do.</p> <p>We used real-estate transaction data and a natural experiment.</p> <h2>What happened when Queensland hiked stamp duty</h2> <p>In 2011, Queensland hiked stamp duty for most buyers by removing some concessions for owner-occupiers at short notice.</p> <p>For owner-occupiers it increased stamp duty by about one percentage point, lifting the average rate from 1.26% of the purchase price to 2.27%.</p> <p>What we found gives us the best estimate to date of what stamp duty does to home purchases.</p> <p>A one percentage point increase in stamp duty causes the number of home purchases to decline by 7.2%.</p> <p>The number of moves (changes of address) falls by about as much.</p> <p>The effect appears to be indiscriminate. Purchases of houses fell about as much as purchases of apartments, and purchases in cities fell about as much as purchases in regions.</p> <p>Moves between suburbs and moves interstate dropped by similar rates.</p> <p>With NSW stamp duty currently averaging about <a href="https://conveyancing.com.au/need-to-know/stamp-duty-nsw">3.5%</a> of the purchase price, our estimates suggest there would be about 25% more purchases and moves by home owners if it were scrapped completely. That’s 100,000 moves.</p> <p>Victoria’s higher rate of stamp duty, about <a href="https://www.sro.vic.gov.au/rates-taxes-duties-and-levies/general-land-transfer-duty-property-current-rates">4.2%</a>, means if it was scrapped there would be about 30% more purchases. That’s another 90,000 moves.</p> <h2>Even low headline rates have big effects</h2> <p>The big effect from small-looking headline rates ought not to be surprising.</p> <p>When someone buys a home, they typically front up much less cash than the purchase price. While stamp duty seems low as a percentage of the purchase price, it is high as a percentage of the cash the buyer needs to find.</p> <p>Here’s an example. If stamp duty is 4% of the purchase price, and a purchaser pays $800,000 for a property with a mortgage deposit of $160,000, the $32,000 stamp duty adds 20%, not 4%, to what’s needed.</p> <p>If the deposit takes five years to save, stamp duty makes it six.</p> <p>A similar thing happens when an owner-occupier changes address. If the buyer sells a fully owned home for $700,000 and buys a new home for $800,000, the upgrade ought to cost them $100,000. A 4% stamp duty lifts that to $132,000.</p> <p>Averaged across all Australian cities, stamp duty costs about <a href="https://e61.in/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Stepped-on-by-Stamp-Duty.pdf">five months</a> of after-tax earnings. In Sydney and Melbourne, it’s six.</p> <h2>Stamp duty has bracket creep</h2> <p>This cost has steadily climbed from around <a href="https://e61.in/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Stepped-on-by-Stamp-Duty.pdf">six weeks</a> of total earnings in the 1990s. It has happened because home prices have climbed faster than incomes and because stamp duty has brackets, meaning more buyers have been pushed into higher ones.</p> <p>Replacing the stamp duty revenue that states have come to rely on would not be easy, but a switch would almost certainly help the economy function better.</p> <p>The more that people are able to move, the more they will move to jobs to which they are better suited, boosting productivity.</p> <p>The more that people downsize when they want to, the more housing will be made available for others.</p> <p>Our findings suggest the costs are far from trivial, making a switch away from stamp duty worthwhile, even if it is disruptive and takes time.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/225773/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nick-garvin-1453835">Nick Garvin</a>, Adjunct Fellow, Department of Economics, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/macquarie-university-1174">Macquarie University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/stamp-duty-is-holding-us-back-from-moving-homes-weve-worked-out-how-much-225773">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Money & Banking

Placeholder Content Image

"There's no way": Man receives $52 billion tax bill

<p>An American man has been left confused after receiving a letter from the government claiming he owed $52 billion in unpaid taxes. </p> <p>Barry Tangert got two letters in the mail from the state of Pennsylvania, opening the first to find a refund check from the federal government for over $900.</p> <p>His joy was short-lived though as he opened the second letter to find the income billing notice from the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue claiming that he owed a jaw-dropping $52,950,744,735.28 ($34,576,826,561.47 AUD).</p> <p>“I knew it was an obvious blunder. I don’t even make over $100,000 a year, so there’s no way I could owe anywhere near that,” Barry Tangert told local outlet <em>News 8</em>.</p> <p>The total sum was so large it didn’t even fit on a single line on the document.</p> <p>Tangert immediately knew it was a mistake, with the astonishing number being more than triple the $11 billion America’s richest man Elon Musk says he owed the government in 2022.</p> <p>How the error made it all the way to his doorstep is still a mystery to Tangert.</p> <p>“I don’t know if it was a computer glitch in the transmission or if it was an input error from my tax preparer,” Tangert said, noting that his tax preparer filed an amendment after noticing an error on his 2022 return.</p> <p>He reached out to the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue’s customer service line, which also provided little help to the baffled man.</p> <p>“The first thing he said was, ‘You had a good year.’ And I said, ‘I wish,’” Tangert said.</p> <p>Fortunately, the state department has since resolved the issue, which it chalked up to wrong numbers simply being put into the system.</p> <p><em>Image credits: WGAL News 8</em></p> <p> </p>

Money & Banking

Placeholder Content Image

What to expect from the federal budget

<p>There's just three weeks left until Treasurer Jim Chalmers unveils the federal budget.</p> <p>With the cost of living crisis still a major issue across the country, we can expect to see some policies aimed at alleviating the pressure. </p> <p>Some policies, have already been announced and here are a few others that we can expect to hear from Chalmers on May 14. </p> <p>Stage 3 cuts announced in January, will form a key part of this year's budget, which will direct more benefit towards low- and middle-income earners – although Australians on high salaries will still receive a tax cut.</p> <p>The decision was made to alleviate the cost-of-living pressures and partly address the bracket creep. The cuts lower the threshold for the lowest two brackets (so they pay less tax on that income), and raise the threshold for the highest two brackets (so they need to earn more to be taxed at a higher rate). </p> <p>This means that someone with average income of around $73,000 will get $1504, but how much you actually receive will depend on your income. </p> <p>The new version of the stage 3 cuts will come into effect on July 1.</p> <p>Superannuation will be paid on government-funded parental leave, with the change due to kick in for parents with babies born after July 1, 2025.</p> <p>They will receive a 12 per cent superannuation on top of their government-funded parental leave, with around 180,000 families expected to benefit from it. </p> <p>The figures will be included in the May 14 budget. </p> <p>Although nothing has been officially announced,  there will likely be HECS-HELP debt relief for current and former students. </p> <p>"I think there's a range of areas where we need to do much better with the younger generation, and HECS is one of them," Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on radio on April 18.</p> <p>"We've received a review of that... and what that has said is that the system can be made simpler and be made fairer.</p> <p>"We're examining the recommendations and we'll be making announcements pretty soon on that. We, of course, have a budget coming up."</p> <p>There have also been some hints from the government that energy bill relief will continue in this year's budget. </p> <p>"Our government understands that for small business – as for Australian families – energy bills remain a source of financial pressure," Albanese said, citing the existing policy that gives eligible families up to $500 off their power bills and eligible small businesses up to $650.</p> <p>"Our government understands that for small business – as for Australian families – energy bills remain a source of financial pressure," he said.</p> <p>"That's why the energy bill relief package I negotiated with the states and territories delivered up to $650 in savings for around 1 million small businesses, along with 5 million families.</p> <p>"And as we put together next month's budget, small businesses and families will again be front and centre in our thinking."</p> <p>Energy bills are also set to go down, or remain stable for the most part from July 1. </p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

Money & Banking

Placeholder Content Image

Tourist slapped with $225k bill after simple mistake

<p>An American tourist has revealed the moment he was charged with a $US143k (AU$225k) bill after a short holiday to Switzerland. </p> <p>Rene Remund and his wife Linda went on the trip last September.</p> <p>Prior to their travels, Remund made sure to inform his mobile phone provider, T-Mobile, that he was going overseas and as a customer of 30 years, he was told he was “covered”.</p> <p>So, with no worries at all, the tourist shared photos of his moments in the Swiss countryside with friends and family via photo messages. </p> <p>Imagine his surprise when he came home to a six-figure bill, after he racked up thousands and thousands of dollars in daily roaming costs. </p> <p>“I get this T-Mobile bill and it doesn’t bother me very much because I was reading $143,” he explained, adding it wasn’t until he went to pay the bill that he realised a few more zeros were involved.</p> <p>“I look at the bill and I say, ‘excuse me’,” he said.</p> <p>“$143,000 … are you guys crazy?”</p> <p>According to the bill, Remund had racked up 9.5 gigabytes of data while in Europe, which cost him thousands of dollars each day. While it wasn't a huge amount of data, not being covered by roaming fees will cause a user to run up a huge bill very quickly. </p> <p>“I called [T-Mobile] and the girl put me on hold for a while,” he explained.</p> <p>“She said let me check this out and I’ll get back to you. She gets back and says, yeah this is a good bill.</p> <p>“I said, ‘what do you mean it’s a good bill?’ And she says ‘well, this is what you owe’.</p> <p>“I said ‘you’re kidding me … you’re crazy’.”</p> <p>After confirming that his bill was in fact  AU$225,000, Remund hired a lawyer to argue the fact that he was covered for international roaming. </p> <p>His lawyer issued a letter to the president of T-Mobile, and they only received a reply a few days ago. </p> <p>The letter from T-Mobile allegedly said that the service provider was “sorry” for the charges, and that Remund would receive a “credit” to eliminate the entire bill. </p> <p>In an email shared to local media <em>Scripps News Tampa</em>, the mobile phone provider said that customers should always “check the travel features of their plan, such as international data roaming, before departing”.</p> <p>“If a customer is on an older plan that doesn’t include international roaming for data and calling, they’ll need to make sure they’re using aeroplane mode and wi-fi when using data to be certain the device doesn’t connect to an international network.”</p> <p><em style="box-sizing: inherit; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-size: 16px; vertical-align: baseline; color: #323338; font-family: Figtree, Roboto, 'Noto Sans Hebrew', 'Noto Kufi Arabic', 'Noto Sans JP', sans-serif; background-color: #ffffff; outline: none !important;">Images: ABC Action News</em></p> <p> </p>

Travel Trouble

Placeholder Content Image

Survey unveils Aussies thoughts on tourism tax

<p>Earlier this year, Bali launched a controversial tourism tax, which meant that every traveller entering the island would have to pay a $15 fee, which the Indonesian province have said will be used for environmental and cultural projects. </p> <p>Now, Aussies have shared their thoughts on introducing a similar system here, and survey results have revealed that many are keen for the tourism tax to be introduced here. </p> <p>Travel provider InsureandGo conducted the survey and found that 60 per cent of Australians would support the government introducing a tax to combat the rising environmental toll of tourism.</p> <p>"Tourist taxes are a relatively new concept, but as travel demand swells, we are seeing more countries adopt the levy," InsureandGo Chief Commercial Officer Jonathan Etkind said. </p> <p>"What's heartening is that only a minority of 37 per cent of respondents don't support tourism taxes, demonstrating just how many Australians support the concept of sustainable travel."</p> <p>The response comes amid increased sustainability concerns on our flora and fauna, which are being threatened by over-tourism. </p> <p>The tax is particularly supported by younger Aussies aged between 18 to 30, with 73 per cent of them saying yes to tourism taxes. </p> <p>Etkind said that this may be because younger Aussies are typically more aware of the environmental impacts of travel compared to the older generation, who may be less accustomed to the tax. </p> <p>Along with Bali, other cities and countries have started introducing similar fees to combat overtourism,  with Venice set to charge day-trippers a fee of 5 Euros ($8.20) per visit. </p> <p>Amsterdam, Netherlands has the highest tourism tax in Europe, with the former 7 per cent hotel tourist levy rising to 12.5 per cent this year. </p> <p>New Zealand also charges international visitors excluding Aussie citizens and permanent residents $25 levy ($32.64 AUD) to address the challenges created by tourism in its conservation areas. </p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

International Travel

Placeholder Content Image

Millions of Aussies set for power bill relief

<p>Millions of Aussies are set for some financial relief, with electricity costs set to drop by up to 7 per cent in the coming months. </p> <p>The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) and Victoria's Essential Services Commission (ESC) both released their draft default market offers - the maximum energy retailers are allowed to charge customers - for the 2024-25 financial year. </p> <p>Under the AER draft, residents in Sydney, Newcastle and the Hunter on the default offer will pay between 3 and 3.4 per cent less for electricity starting from July 1. </p> <p>The biggest drop is set for Victoria, with the ESC proposing a 6.4 per cent decrease. </p> <p>Those in Western Sydney, the Illawarra, and South Coast, will see their electricity bills decrease by 1.9 to 7.1 per cent. </p> <p>South Australians will receive a drop between 0.5 and 2.5 per cent. </p> <p>A number of small business customers will also benefit from lower power bill costs with 9.7 per cent for Sydney, Newcastle and the Hunter; 4.4 per cent for Western Sydney and the South Coast; 0.3 per cent for South-East Queensland; 8.2 per cent for South Australia; and 7 per cent for Victoria.</p> <p>Energy Minister Chris Bowen welcomed the news of lower power bill costs, but acknowledged that it will continue to play a part in the cost of living challenges faced by many Australians. </p> <p>"This is encouraging news," he said.</p> <p>"Encouraging for those small businesses and families who will receive lower energy bills as a result.</p> <p>"But nobody should suggest that there aren't real cost of living pressures around the world and in Australia, and energy prices are of course part of that and will continue to be."</p> <p>Not everyone will see a drop, with customers in the rest of regional NSW to get a small increase of 0.9 per cent, while the default offer for South East Queensland will increase by up to 2.7 per cent.</p> <p>While not all households are on the default offer, Bowen said that the AER's decision will also affect those not on the offer. </p> <p>"This either impacts directly or indirectly your energy bill," he said.</p> <p>"Directly for those on the default market offer. For those who aren't on the direct market offer, indirectly - the energy companies have to benchmark themselves against this, tell their consumers how they compare to this, and it provides very real pressure on them to match it.</p> <p>"If they don't, consumers will know about it and will make choices accordingly.</p> <p>"It's partly about those on the default market offer, but it actually impacts on all our bills indirectly."</p> <p>AER chair Clare Savage said that the cost of living crisis was the main contributor for their draft decision. </p> <p>"We know that economic conditions have put pressure on many Australians and the increases in electricity prices over the last two years has made energy less affordable for many households," she said. </p> <p>"In light of this, the AER has, in this decision, placed increased weight on protecting consumers." </p> <p>The draft decision is not final, with both the AER and ESC to receive consultation and feedback from stakeholders before confirming their default market offers in May.</p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

Money & Banking

Placeholder Content Image

Tax boost announced for 1.2 million people

<p>Low-income earners will receive a tax boost with the Medicare levy threshold set to rise. </p> <p>The income threshold at which taxpayers will have to pay a two per cent Medicare levy will increase by 7.1 per cent, in line with inflation. </p> <p>Currently single people who earn below $24,276 do not have to pay the levy. Under the changes, the two per cent levy only has to be paid by anyone earning over <span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">$26,000</span></p> <p>The <span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">Medicare levy </span><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">threshold for seniors and pensioners will increase to $41,089, up from the initial benchmark of $38,365. </span></p> <p>For families, this threshold has increased to $43,486 up from the previous $40,939. </p> <p>Treasurer Jim Chalmers said that the increase was part of the broader measures taken to relieve the increase in cost-of-living. </p> <p>“This will ensure people on lower incomes continue to pay less or are exempt from the Medicare levy,”  he said on Tuesday. </p> <p>“It means 1.2 million Australians get to keep a bit more of what they earn.”</p> <p>The boost in the Medicare levy threshold was announced alongside changes to income tax cuts, with those earning under $150,000 set to receive greater benefits. </p> <p>“This is about doing what we responsibly can to ease some of the pressure being felt by Australians right around the country, but especially for people on lower incomes, young people, seniors and women,” Chalmers said.</p> <p>This comes just days after Medicare celebrated it's 40th anniversary, with an exhibition launched at Parliament House.</p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

Money & Banking

Placeholder Content Image

Stage 3 stacks up: the rejigged tax cuts help fight bracket creep and boost middle and upper-middle households

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ben-phillips-98866">Ben Phillips</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/australian-national-university-877">Australian National University</a></em></p> <p>The winners and losers from the Albanese government’s <a href="https://treasury.gov.au/sites/default/files/2024-01/tax-cuts-government-fact-sheet.pdf">rejig</a> of this year’s Stage 3 tax cuts have already been well documented.</p> <p>From July 1 every taxpayer will get a tax cut. Most, the 11 million taxpayers earning up to A$146,486, will also pay less tax than they would have under the earlier version of Stage 3, some getting a tax cut <a href="https://theconversation.com/albanese-tax-plan-will-give-average-earner-1500-tax-cut-more-than-double-morrisons-stage-3-221875">twice as big</a>.</p> <p>A much smaller number, 1.8 million, will get a smaller tax cut than they would have under the original scheme, although their cuts will still be big. The highest earners will get cuts of $4,529 instead of $9,075.</p> <p>But many of us live in households where income is shared and many households don’t pay tax because the people in them don’t earn enough or are on benefits.</p> <p>The Australian National University’s <a href="https://csrm.cass.anu.edu.au/research/policymod">PolicyMod</a> model is able to work out the impacts at the household level, including the impact on households in which members are on benefits or don’t earn enough to pay tax.</p> <h2>More winners than losers in every broad income group</h2> <p>We’ve divided Australian households into five equal-size groups ranked by income, from lowest to lower-middle to middle to upper-middle to high.</p> <p>Our modelling finds that, just as is the case for individuals, many more households will be better off with the changes to Stage 3 than would have been better off with Stage 3 as it was, although the difference isn’t as extreme.</p> <p>Overall, 58% of households will be better off with the reworked Stage 3 than they would have under the original and 11% will be worse off.</p> <p>Importantly, there remain 31% who will be neither better off nor worse off, because they don’t pay personal income tax.</p> <hr /> <p><iframe id="0CWXE" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/0CWXE/4/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <hr /> <p>But it is different for different types of households.</p> <p>In the lowest-earning fifth of households, far more are better off (13.5%) than worse off (0.2%) with the overwhelming bulk neither better nor worse off (86.3%).</p> <hr /> <p><iframe id="KC5zy" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/KC5zy/3/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <hr /> <p>In the highest-earning fifth of households, while more than half are better off (54.4%), a very substantial proportion are worse off (42.3%).</p> <p>Very few (only 3.1%) are neither better nor worse off.</p> <hr /> <p><iframe id="WSkSL" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/WSkSL/3/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <hr /> <h2>But high-earning households go backwards on average</h2> <p>In dollar terms, the top-earning fifth of households loses money while every group gains. That’s because although there are more winners than losers among the highest-earning fifth of households, the losers lose more money.</p> <p>The biggest dollar gains go to middle and upper-middle income households with middle-income households ahead, on average, by $988 per year and upper-middle income households by $1,102. The highest-income households are worse off by an average of $837 per year.</p> <p>As a percentage of income, middle-income households gain the most with a 1% increase in disposable income. Lowest income households gain very little, while the highest-income households go backwards by 0.3%.</p> <hr /> <p><iframe id="kAPmC" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/kAPmC/3/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <hr /> <h2>The rejig does a better job of fighting bracket creep</h2> <p>And we’ve found something else.</p> <p>The original version of the Stage 3 tax cuts was advertised as a measure to overcome <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-2-main-arguments-against-redesigning-the-stage-3-tax-cuts-are-wrong-heres-why-221975">bracket creep</a>, which is what happens when a greater proportion of taxpayers’ income gets pushed into higher tax brackets as incomes climb.</p> <p>We have found it wouldn’t have done it for most of the income groups, leaving all but the highest-earning group paying more tax after the change in mid-2024 than it used to in 2018.</p> <p>The rejigged version of Stage 3 should compensate for bracket creep better, leaving the top two groups paying less than they did in 2018 and compensating the bottom three better than the original Stage 3.</p> <hr /> <p><iframe id="YG0cT" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/YG0cT/1/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <hr /> <p>Not too much should be made of the increase in tax rates in the lowest income group between 2018 ad 2024 because some of it reflects stronger income growth.</p> <p>We find that overall, the redesigned Stage 3 does a better job of offsetting bracket creep than the original. It is also better targeted to middle and upper-middle income households.</p> <p>Having said that, the average benefit in dollar terms isn’t big. At about $1,000 per year for middle and upper-middle income households and costing the budget about what the original Stage 3 tax cuts would have cost, its inflationary impact compared to the original looks modest.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/221851/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ben-phillips-98866"><em>Ben Phillips</em></a><em>, Associate Professor, Centre for Social Research and Methods, Director, Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/australian-national-university-877">Australian National University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/stage-3-stacks-up-the-rejigged-tax-cuts-help-fight-bracket-creep-and-boost-middle-and-upper-middle-households-221851">original article</a>.</em></p>

Money & Banking

Placeholder Content Image

AusPost customer faces extra charge for using cash

<p dir="ltr">As conversations continue about moving to a cashless society, an Australia Post customer was outraged after being slapped with a charge for using cash. </p> <p dir="ltr">Brisbane resident Gerrie Hoogland shared her outrage after hearing about the supposed cash charge through a friend, who claims they were charged $2.20 for wanting to use cash to pay a bill. </p> <p dir="ltr">Hoogland recounted the story on X, formerly known as Twitter, to share the story, while asking if anyone else had encountered anything similar. </p> <p dir="ltr">She wrote, “A friend of my husband’s went to pay a bill at the Post Office last week. He gave them $82.00 in cash and they said they would have to charge him $2.20 for using cash.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“He refused to pay it after telling them cash is legal tender, and then he left without paying the bill at all. Is anyone else hearing more of this?”</p> <p dir="ltr">A number of Aussies took to the comments to call out Australia Post for being “shady”, with some calling the fee a “scam” and a “disgrace”. </p> <p dir="ltr">However the outrage towards Australia Post may be misplaced. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em><a href="https://au.finance.yahoo.com/news/australia-post-customer-charged-220-for-using-cash---but-is-the-outrage-warranted-025519571.html">Yahoo Finance</a></em> has contacted the national postal service and understands the fee is set by individual billers, rather than Australia Post themselves.</p> <p dir="ltr">The fee relates to bills paid in person at an Australia Post outlet via Post Billpay and can apply to both cash and card transactions, and whether or not the fee is passed onto the customer will depend on the individual biller. </p> <p dir="ltr">In recent years, a number of billers charge an additional payment fee for bills paid in person, with some notable examples include telcos Telstra, Optus and Vodafone.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em><span id="docs-internal-guid-934db778-7fff-f88e-e460-f8550a0ce109"></span></p>

Money & Banking

Our Partners