Monday, May 24, 2010

Lucia Budget non-event for me with ETS looming on the horizon

A while back, a small article appeared in the Dominion Post on a happiness survey. Not surprisingly, the survey found that those on in excess of a $200,000 annual income were consistently more happy than any other group. Who said that money can't buy happiness?

I would guess that is because at that level of income, the normal stressors wouldn't apply. A sudden growth spurt by your teenager necessitating a complete new wardrobe every four months would just be an excuse to shop. The car needing major repairs in excess of a thousand dollars might indicate the need to upgrade the car. A tooth imploding without warning, necessitating a root-canal would be paid for as part of that month's expenses. No sense of dread would accompany the power bill or the three-monthly rates bill or even an interest rate rise (unless you are seriously over-mortgaged), or the coming ETS tax.

Two hundred thousand dollars a year means that a single income earner would still get $143,000 net salary per year on the new tax rates. That is nearly $12,000 per month.

I would like to propose, that based on the happiness study (or maybe it was just a survey), be the new standard for entry into the middle-classes. The new mid-point. Where life just works for you, and money is not much of an issue.

I've noticed that there are many among us who think Working for Families is "middle-class welfare". It's not. Welfare, by definition is for the poor only. Any family with children earning less that $143,000 per year after income tax is taken out, is poor. That's why so many mothers work and put their children in daycare, they can't afford not to given the tax benefit of two parents working. The only reason that the goal post hasn't been shifted is that no one likes to think of themselves as poor. And heaven forbid if most of the population of NZ thought of themselves as this way.

Just to clarify, my family does not qualify for Working for Families, nor do I think that it should exist. It would be better for there to be a tax-free threshold for families that takes into account dependant children, and a top-up of welfare, should that also be necessary. So, I'm not arguing for it's continued existence, merely expressing discomfort at the vitriol directed towards it and those families that rely on it.

We also have never earned enough to be in the "happiness band". Though if we had, I suspect we would have blown all the extra money on house renovations and increased our mortgage as well.

Last week I was momentarily stunned by an editorial in the Dominion Post on the budget. One line sprang out at me:
From October, a two-child household will effectively pay no tax until its annual income exceeds $50,000.
Woah, have National introduced a tax-free threshold for those with children? Could that apply to us? No, said Mr Maria, as he was sitting next to me. There is no way National would give a $50,000 tax-free threshold to those with two children. A tax free threshold would be an incentive to earn more, because that threshold would always be there (until the kids grow up) and would not penalise an increase in income, such as what occurs now with WFF. Way too radical.

No, National's plan is to soften us up with minor tax reductions, so we can be socked hard with the ETS when it comes into force in 5 weeks. Apparently it's only going to cost us $3 a week more according to John Key this morning.
"The question is for a household, are they prepared to pay $3 a week for the insurance premium of our environment? I think the answer to that is 'yes'."
"Insurance premium of our environment?" What is that supposed to mean?

I've got a question for John, who thinks the ETS is only to increase my costs by $3 a week. Are you, John Key, willing to fund any shortfall of mine from your own pocket?


Thought not.

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