Useful and Benevolent Pro-Social Taxes

Unstuffy Ideas from Oz

Taxes can help to prevent a country dividing into the 5% who are very rich and become richer, and the 95% who range down to extremes of poverty. Rich people become sinks into which money drains.

The benevolence of some very rich people gives them honor. Mostly, however, they tie up money that should be circulating as a means of exchange of goods and services in the community; they use it to accumulate financial assets and control rather than productive investment, to import luxuries that increase foreign debt, and their competition to buy property raises the price of land and homes. Nobody really 'earns' an income of more than $500,000 per annum in value to the community, when others are working hard with a productive 60-hour week for $12,000. 

Real tax reforms that are needed:
  • Remove charges and impediments on useful everyday business, not just substitute another harassment of tax-collecting.
  • Tax unproductive accumulation of great wealth.
  • Tax speculation and cross-national financial transactions that cause unstable money markets and provoke national meltdowns. Global co-operation by governments would reap billions in revenue.
  • Set out the primary principles of taxation. A simplified Tax Act could cut political huckstering, litigation, and State-Federal hassles.
  • Inspire a citizenship ethos, so that fair taxes for the common good are not avoided, but are paid responsibly.
  • Introduce simple taxes which are useful as well as easy to administer. Some of the ideas are fines or taxes on behavior which is not illegal but that makes the quality of life worse for others. Some of these taxes could be described as Secular Indulgences and these also have good social consequences.
  • Administration: Computerisation and efficient organisational techniques can make collection of these taxes inexpensive and not require counterproductive increases in bureaucracy. Information available.

These taxes can include:

1. IMPLEMENTING SOME MAJOR PRINCIPLES FOR TAXATION IN SPECIFIC WAYS - eg wealth redistribution to prevent the common wealth pouring off into sinks.

BENEVOLENCE TAX Benevolence-Tax is a tax on great wealth in which the payer can stipulate the benevolent use to be made of it, from a published list of organizations and purposes and organizations which would like to receive Benevolences (new meaning for an old word.)
This form of super-tax is extracted from the rich taxpayer by the Tax Office and forwarded by them to the purpose or organization nominated, to prevent any funny business. The payoff for the Benevolent Taxpayer is honor and glory. (see detailed account.) The tax is based on gross income without loopholes.

Honor and glory for Benevolent Taxpayers

Every year the Tax Office will provide newspapers with a list to publish on their front pages of the particular Benevolence Taxes paid by those with incomes over say $ OAP 15 (15 times the income of an old-age pensioner) in order to reduce them to that maximum income.

Plaques are put on whatever his/her money pays for, and their name is immortalised - eg:

  • A Liverpool Bus might carry the name and badge of Ringo Starr's Bus,
  • A Railway Carriage carry the Royal Logo of Dame Edna,
  • A Library could label one of its areas the William J. Bottler Reading Area, with a plaque in the lobby
    explaining why.

  • Some institutions could have Honor Boards in their lobbies, to list Benevolent Taxpayers as they benefit from them.
  • A subsidised sporting event could have the Benevolent Taxpayer's name emblazoned on the fence where advertisements usually go, and listed on the programs - he/she could share in trophy awarding.
  • A mended road could have an addition to a major signpost - eg. 'Mended as a public benefit 1991 by Derry Dremer'.

Some plaques could even be inset in the entrance hall of a national Hall of Fame linked to the Museum, eg. "Packer's Benevolence Tax reduced the National Debt to near zilch."

Another version of a Benevolence Tax, levied like a super-tax, to give rich people more opportunity for worth-while fame, glory, honor, and community usefulness could work like this perhaps:-

Everyone whose taxable income in any one year is over $100,000 pays a graduated Benevolence Tax and they can specify on their tax forms the Benevolent Use they would wish made of it. If the sum of the Benevolent Tax is over $50,000 the Benevolent Taxpayer gets a payoff in honor and glory. Annually the Taxation Office provides the press with a list to publish on their front pages of the particular Benevolence Taxes paid by those with incomes over
£1,000 OAP (QV) in order to reduce them to that maximum sum, unless the BTaxpayers pay $10 for omission.

Some of the Commonwealth Bank's Benevolence Tax could go to paying the bank charges levied on the poor and children's savings accounts.
A periodical or book subsidised by a Benevolent Taxpayer could carry a logo near its masthead or on its frontispiece with the name of the Benevolent Taxpayer.

To become a benefactor rather than a mulctor could become a motivation for enterprise.

HIGH DEPARTURE TAXES on sales of property and businesses to overseas owners. If we ourselves did more of our own investing instead of wasting our cash on gambling and imports, we could tax more highly remits of profits to overseas owners.

GREEN OMISSION TAXES on all new building and renovations that does not include energy-saving provisions with capacity for further improvement. Most of the get-rich- quick building being erected at present by 'greedy developers' barely meets the minimum standards, let alone leaving leeway for later updating with reformed sewerage, solar/windpower, re-use of consumables and water saving. Good Design Guides are at present not good enough.

NON-ESSENTIAL IMPORTS TAX taking up W. C. Wentworth's idea. If possible, this tax should be related to labor costs in country of manufacture, compared to Australian wages. This tax could therefore help to raise overseas wages, and keep Australian wages from being dragged down to match them. It is possible to assess this for some products,even if invidious for others.
A product is 'non-essential' if comparative products are also produced in Australia, or have been within the last five years, eg. some Australian products like citric acid and many metal tools have abandoned production I think unnecessarily and against the national interest.

LAND-DEAL PROFITS TAXES Higher taxes on profits in land deals, above the price paid and invoiced costs of improvements. Land values come from public need and infrastructure, not from private effort.

MEMORIAL TAXES Inheritance taxes help to ensure that people who have not earned money do not become excessively rich. Certainly it is an incentive to work to be able to leave an inheritance to the family - but a medium inheritance is fairer than millionaire heirs and heiresses. Inheritance up to say $1 million in assets could be allowed tax- free to any individual. All assets after charitable bequests and these limited legacies would go to a Memorial Tax in honor of the deceased. Its use for public benefit or simply public revenue could be specified in the will or by heirs. An inexpensive plaque and publication in an annual listing could commemorate the memorial. The tax could go to a capital establishment that includes provision for maintenance, or to maintenance - even if it just paves the street to a family residence or cleans up his local drains. Family trusts and family corporations would not be eligible for legacies.



Now see Part 2. Some socially helpful taxes - that can be helpful even to think about, and taxes that are socially harmful.