Thursday, August 6, 2009

ZenTiger Balancing the scales

With sunlight on some of the Ministerial perks and "reimbursements for costs", the media is whipping up our own version of the UK parliamentarian rorts. It's pretty lightweight stuff, but at a time of economic hardship for all, it strikes resonance with the public.

This is partly because government spending skyrocketed under Labour. The difference between government spending as a percent of GDP, and in terms of the size of the public service with Labour back in 1999 and Labour as they left government in 2008 is stark. I don't have the figures on me, but hunt around the blogs.

Bill English has decided to pay back a big chunk of his rental expense claims, acknowledging it's not a good look, even though it's legal. Good on him - others may have simply gone to ground and rode the media frenzy out.

I'll leave Bill with one thought as he obligingly repays the money. If he happened to inadvertently put in a tax claim for an entitlement that later the tax department audited and rejected, he'd be obliged to pay back not only what he over claimed, but a hefty penalty and interest as well. A chunk of debt suddenly becomes a crippling chunk of debt. I believe the tax penalty rates are excessive and unjust. If he could get IRD to convert his $12,000 "owed" to the IRD amount they would charge him, he might get a shock. Perhaps he can sort that out?

More taxes
Tax rates have gone up, because we are taxed in so many ways. People with jobs make a little more through modest CPI increases, or by earning a promotion, to find the income tax margins NEVER go up with CPI. And yet the rates, charges from the SOEs, petrol, electricity, taxable goods and services (liquor, license fees etc) all go up and often far in excess of CPI.

I received my rubbish collection invoice last week. A few years ago I paid $180 a year for a large green wheelie bin to be picked up by a private company. The council rubbish bag system, although partly paid for out of my rates, was useless, so I resorted to the market.

This year, that fee is now $340. The breakdown showing the reasons for increase were all around Council fees, including a new "environmental penalty tax". It appears we rubbish bin users are also helping to pay for the "free recycling" the Council provides. Going from $180 to $340 is a big increase over a few years and is way beyond CPI. Council rates are also going up by at least 8% this year, and it's likely we'll be paying for the cost of water meters to enable the Council to tax us for water usage. I bet the rates (which include water delivery charges) will not go down by the same amount.

People have been hit in the pocket for the last few years, and perk busting combined with news of massive amounts of money being rorted in health, hundreds of millions in over payments on things like Kiwi Rail and the growth of government spending, with the canceling of tax cuts so the government can protect its revenue at the expense of the citizens is proving to be all to much for the man on the street. How much harder it must be to those who have recently lost their jobs.


See also
PM of NZ: Rorts Galore Continues

My solution to MP Entitlements
Entitlements

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