Does Wayne Swan know anything about tax?

No. Probably not. This is the man who thought the mining industry paid 13% in income tax. Well the old goose is still at it:

“I want to speak out on the issues I’m passionate about and in a way that’s constructive for the Labor Party – not just in the short term but the long term,” he says.

“For example I think the highly partisan role played by the Business Council at the moment is something that needs to be targeted and dealt with.

“For them to come to town and say, ‘Labor doesn’t understand tax’ and tell us how we should vote reveals a stunning, pig-headed arrogance that is beyond belief.”

Swan certainly does speak freely: “The idea the principal thing we should do to drive growth is give a company tax cut is just bullshit … a third of them pay fucking nothing.”

Hmmmmm. Probably because a third of them are not earning any taxable income.  Wayne Swan probably doesn’t know that business isn’t some magic pudding that keeps on giving. I doubt he has forgotten – I suspect he never knew.  If someone were to sit him down and explain that some firms make money every year and pay tax at the rate of 30% of their taxable income while others sometimes lose money and then pay no tax that he would think this to be some fairy tale, or tax avoidance scheme, or some conspiracy to embarrass the labor movement.

Mind you, it does make you wonder if he ever understood his 2010 budget speech:

Taxing mining super profits fairly means we can afford to cut the company tax rate to 29 per cent in 2013-14 and 28 per cent in 2014-15.

This will boost our competitiveness, expand investment and job opportunities, and spread the benefits of the boom more broadly, to more working families.

I suspect the meaning of those words escaped him and he just read them out aloud.

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60 Responses to Does Wayne Swan know anything about tax?

  1. Nathan

    The ‘world’s greatest treasurer’ is a perfect advertisement for the need to put in place some level of competence testing before being allowed to stand for election. Intellectual and emotional intelligence should form part of the process as well a decent comprehension of history. I wonder how many of the dolts in both Chambers at the Federal level would pass such an test?

  2. stackja

    Voters of Lilley gave Swanny 41,819 votes or 43.49% increased margin +3.28 in 2016

  3. Greg

    It’s very hard to explain something to someone whose job depends on not understanding it.

  4. Empire

    It’s very hard to explain something to someone whose job depends on not understanding it.

    Pretending not to understand. He’s not as thick as he makes out. He’s following the script.

  5. john constantine

    Class warfare sells.

    When those not in the 1% can vote to take the money off the rich bastards and get free stuff with it, this meme swings elections.

    When Venezaustralia results from mass importing debt and tenant herds to beat the housing cycle, and then taxing the rich to pay the interest and unfunded liabilities, our social justice league will still have State guaranteed gravy trains locked in.

    Their swanfilth isn’t dumb, he has locked his family in on the only safe refuge in town.

  6. Procrustes

    It was never necessary for Treasurers to understand tax policy.

    But to wander off topic, I guess the Goose dropping the f bomb (even with elision in the original article) can be ignored as good old labor passionate, plain speaking. I’ll remember that when others have a go at Senator Leyonhjelm when he works blue.

  7. zaphod

    “Senator Leyonhjelm when he works blue”

    It’s not the blue parts that are the issue, it’s the underlying philosophy.

  8. John Comnenus

    Wayne Swna knows everything he needs to know about tax – it’s how he gets the to take money off those with it, to give to those who don’t have it. He wins elections by promising to take more off those who don’t vote for him to give to people who do vote for him. Swan, like all Lefties, understands tax alright. What he doesn’t understand is how bad his business model is for the long term prosperity’s of the nation.

  9. Alan Austin

    Wayne Swan is actually correct.
    Company tax evasion is rife today, as evidenced by analysis of these documents:

    * ATO annual reports,
    * statements by ATO commissioners,
    * the ATO transparency report,
    * the Australia Institute research into the budget,
    * Oxfam’s report on tax avoidance,
    * the auditor-general’s report into the ATO,
    * the auditor-general’s report into the North West Shelf,
    * ASIC annual reports,
    * other ASIC documents,
    * the monthly Finance Department figures,
    * the weekly AOFM gross debt figures,
    * the Senate inquiry,
    * court cases,
    * individual company annual reports,
    * analysis of the national accounts, and
    * the MYEFO.

    The evidence suggests total company profits this financial year will be substantially higher than the 2006-07 level in real terms. But total company tax collected this year is forecast , and on track at the end of February, to be lower in real terms than back then.
    Hence the actual rate paid in 2016-17 is less than half what it was in 2006-07, whatever that was.

  10. Alan Austin

    Oops! Please delete last sentence in previous post. Included in error.

  11. OneWorldGovernment


  12. OneWorldGovernment

    Why the fk should any company of people pay tax.

    Surely the profit derives to the owners!

  13. Swan is a stupid little communist whose ideology is to drive us into cultural, racial and economic suicide.

    These regressive little marxists need to be dealt with by any means and doing so is entirely justified as nothing more then self defence.

  14. Bruce of Newcastle

    Any company with employees is paying payroll tax, and they send PAYG income tax into the ATO out of the employees’ paypackets. Mining companies also pay royalties.

    You are not improving the image of the Labor Party, Mr Swan, when you tell porkies.

  15. C EU Later

    And in the words read by the immortal Ron Burgundy:’[email protected]&k you San Diego’

  16. Sydney Boy

    Swan certainly does speak freely: “The idea the principal thing we should do to drive growth is give a company tax cut is just bullshit … a third of them pay fucking nothing.”

    Oh I’m sure he does understand. I’m sure he knows that company tax is only paid when a profit is made, and that many of those “fucking companies” which pay no tax are property trusts and the like. But you don’t get reelected if you are not pushing the meme that large foreign-owned multinationals hide (let’s ignore all the ASIC and ASX filings, eh?) their profits and they have highly paid accountants (remember those parts in the various tax acts that say “for highly paid accountants only”?) who shift money to the Caymans (and we’ll also ignore the tax info sharing arrangement we have with the Caymans). And of course, if the are in any way connected with fossil fuels or mining, they are double evil because they get $B in subsidies (but not a single Greenie can ever tell you exactly what those subsidies are?).

    In other words – he appeals to the intelligence level of the average working-class Australian who has been bombarded by issue motivated neo-socialist and far-left ideological groups such as Getup.

  17. Ray

    Perhaps a better question to ask is do any of the rent seeking politicians or bureaucrats who infest Canberra know anything about tax. How many could convincingly explain excess burden, or poverty traps, or the effect of elasticities on tax incidence.

    Or perhaps an even better question is how many of them care. For it is much easier to win votes by short term populist appeals to fairness despite the long term cost. In this regard, Hockey and Abbott were no better with their deficit reduction levy while Morrison and Turnbull push the bounds even further with their superannuation tax changes, revised pension assets tests and their badly targeted corporate tax changes.

    When both sides spurn understanding, we will have no chance of an informed debate and imbeciles such as Swann will gladly get away with the most outrageous comments.

  18. Splatacrobat

    “For them to come to town and say………”
    Business built the fucking town you innumerate imbecile.

  19. Entropy

    Alan, you don’t h LNP your credibility referencing the ponds institute or Oxfam.

  20. Entropy

    Sorry, too early and had night:
    Alan, you don’t help your credibility referencing the ponds institute or Oxfam.

  21. Nighthawk the Elder

    “For them to come to town and say………”
    Business built the fucking town you innumerate imbecile.

    Splatacrobat, unfortunately the numpties subscribe to the Obummer principle of “You didn’t build that, government did”.

  22. Up The Workers!

    The A.L.P.s’ (Arithmetical Learning Parody’s) comically innumerate “Worlds’ Best Treasurer”, ‘The Goose’, is at it again, bestowing on the Nation the benefit of everything he doesn’t know about all things arithmetical.

    How are those 6 consecutive massive A.L.P. massive “SURPLUSES” going, Wayne?

    Any hope of seeing them before the N.B.N. is finally completed, around the Ice-Age after next?

    If “Competition Stupidity” ever became an official Olympic Sport, “The Goose” and his colleagues would either be Gold Medallists every four years, or W.A.D.A. would have to rub them out on suspicion of habitual doping to achieve that consistent level of performance.

    In answer to the question : “What does Wayne Swan know about tax?”, the answer is contained in the following poem (which might have been written by him?)

    “I had a dog and his name was “TAX”.
    I opened the door, and IN COME TAX!”

  23. Judith Sloan

    He was an emotional politician. When the non-mining companies refused to support the mining tax, he got all huffy and told them he wouldn’t reduce the rate of company tax. He introduced the SchoolKids Bonus instead. You know it makes sense.

    Then he set up a panel to look at reducing the rate of company tax but to be funded by ditching various tax provisions that apply to companies. The panel came back and said it can’t be done because those provisions are there for sound reasons. The whole idea was dropped.

    But the point is that Labor was actively seeking to reduce the rate of company tax which Swan now this is is fucking mad. Hmmmm.

  24. John Comnenus

    That video from Sweden should shock every Swede and scare non Swedes.

    people with no respect for the law can fight off the police. That’s the first step in a loss of control by the State. It is a direct threat to the State. And wow aren’t the female cops effective – not.

    From my limited experience the Swedish military is no better.

  25. Charlene Macdonald

    Alan Austin

    You are wasting your time making rational and factual comments. Those who comment on this blog are beyond rational debate and indeed beyond any sort of reasoning.

    LOL the blog is great for showing LNP voters who are dissapointed about the current goverment

    how ill-informed and determined to remain ignorant and ridiculous the so called right wing are

    how determined the hard right are to be bigots and to have the right to force their bigotry on everyone else,

    how much these individuals dislike other human beings and how they unwilling to be part of any society,

    how divided they are and confused about whether they are libertarians or conservatives and that they don’t really care about the ideology. The point is to gang up on any thing that they don’t like and call it leftism.

    There is an air of defeat and the best thing is that many are talking about leaving the country.

  26. Sparkx

    Alan Austin
    #2343613, posted on April 3, 2017 at 2:03 am
    Wayne Swan is actually correct.
    Company tax evasion is rife today, as evidenced by analysis of these documents:

    * ATO annual reports,
    * statements by ATO commissioners,………………

    If that is true Alan the ATO commissioners should have the directors of these companies before the courts, recouping what is rightfully payable. However, if you actually meant “tax minimisation” then that is an entirely different matter – and perfectly legal.

  27. Empire GTHO Phase III

    How’s the weather in Nîmes, Alan?

  28. Bear Necessities

    Hi Alan,

    If you have evidence that any of these entities are intentionally not following Australian tax law (i.e. what you call tax evasion) please forward it to the ATO. They will happily litigate if you can provide it.

  29. .

    Alan Austin has to be a spoof.

    Each piece of “evidence” tendered to prove his assertion is incorrect or simply opinion by people who have an agenda or don’t know what they are talking about.

  30. john constantine

    Thanks to the abject, napping, languid failure of their turnhewson, Australia is not only faced with a shortfilth government, but there is still a turnfailure created possibility of a plibblefilth/filthswan government.

    How could one man turn back the tide so far as to entrench socialism in australia for all eternity?.

  31. Texas Jack

    Risk. That long forgotten if not ignored element, fundamental to almost every human endeavour. The Green ALP haven’t a clue about risk taking in enterprise and why it’s essential if we’re to keep growth delivering wealth. Then again those complete limp dicks in the Liberal Party hardly have any more of a clue.

  32. The BigBlueCat

    I agree with the many who say Swan is following the script. It’s all about the narrative and screw the facts. That many companies don’t pay any tax is in part a reflection on the regulatory framework many small companies have to deal with. Anything to relieve them of that burden may see many of them with taxable income.

    But the rabid lefties, for the most part, don’t want to understand the difference between income and profit, let alone the concept of taxable income. All they see are dollar signs, and are then led by their lizard brains to see if they can grab the income and bugger those firms who struggle to survive. They take the same view of your super fund.

  33. Sinclair Davidson

    Alan – Swan is even wrong there. I estimate about half of all entities liable for company pay nothing.

  34. H B Bear

    This is what happens when your only exposure to economic thinking is listening to “Born in the USA” while you wait for Albo to get back from the rub’n’tug after the 1984 ALP National Conference.

  35. H B Bear

    Hi Alan. Always nice to meet a fellow aficionado of The Ponds Institute, Australia’s finest independent think tank.

  36. Empire GTHO Phase III

    Alan Austin has to be a spoof.

    He’s real alright. I’m surprised you haven’t heard of him Dot.

  37. Empire GTHO Phase III

    If the objective is to hoover as many $ as possible, efficiency is a legitimate consideration.

    Statists would like to see a higher % of the total tax take delivered by their most reliable collection agents – public companies.

  38. Cynic of Ayr

    I fixed it for the Bird…

    “I want to speak out on the issues I’m passionate about and in a way that’s destructive for the Labor Party – not just in the short term but the long term,” he says.

    “For example I think the highly partisan role played by the Trade Unions at the moment is something that needs to be targeted and dealt with.

    “For them to come to town and say, ‘Labor doesn’t understand rorting’ and tell us how we should vote reveals a stunning, pig-headed arrogance that is beyond belief. There must be more of it!

    Swan certainly does speak freely: “The idea the principal thing we should do to drive towards depression is give a the Unions a tax cut is just bullshit … none of them pay any fucking tax now.

  39. NewChum

    Swan knows. He’s not that stupid.

    He is an actor, a front man paid to deliver lines. He purposely conflates things to try and position himself to the average non-educated punter who has trouble separating big business from big government and only cares about having a job to go to and some cash back to pay for the kiddies schools and daycare.

    The most important thing people like Swan want is to keep this average punter confused and not gaining any education into the source of most, if not all, of their problems, which is excessive intrusion by the government into their daily lives. All the tax collection is done before the punter receives their pay, while all the handouts are done as cash payments. Big gov and big biz and big labor all work together to shaft them rotten, and big biz tacitly agrees to be the fall guy while big labor appears to be the good guy, while big gov pretends to keep the whole show civil and divide the spoils ‘fairly’. Big biz agrees to be the bad guy so they can keep the market locked up in the ever present Australian oligopolies.

    2017- the year of the blackouts – might see the whole thing start to fall apart, so maybe why Swan is starting to position early. It would appear big biz is about to get pasted as the source of all woes – Sunday penalties and every day blackouts are both being pinned on ‘greedy business’.

    A very depressing state of affairs.

    And then to top it off someone quoting Oxfam and the ponds institute, as though either would have a clue about anything. If all the companies in Australia are not paying tax, then I guess the tax receipts would be no different if they ceased operations? No?

  40. Swan knows. He’s not that stupid.

    I disagree.
    Swan actually is that stupid. (Difficult as it may be for some to come to terms with).

  41. Sinclair Davidson

    Alan Austin is a real person. Yes people like him do really exist.

  42. Rob MW

    Does Wayne Swan know anything about tax?

    Well yes of course. Hugo Chavez taught him how tax works which is ably backed up Richard Denniss’s averred postulations whilst waiting for his nuggets to drop.

  43. danger mouse

    The Swan who turned into an ugly duckling..

  44. Tim Neilson

    Alan Austin
    #2343613, posted on April 3, 2017 at 2:03 am
    Charlene Macdonald
    #2343673, posted on April 3, 2017 at 7:44 am

    You are both totally and utterly wrong. I have, numerous times, sat in rooms with Chris Jordan or other senior ATO officials saying publicly that the “tax gap” for big corporates is negligible in budgetary terms because the vast majority of the big end of town are assiduously compliant.

    AA makes a song and dance about how “profits” have increased while tax revenue has declined. If you don’t understand the difference between taxable income and accounting profits you aren’t qualified to comment on this issue. Here’s your first clue – why do we have two separate things: tax laws and accounting standards? Why don’t we have just one? When you’ve figured that out, come back here and admit that you need to learn a lot more, and I’m sure everyone here will be happy to help.

  45. Dr Fred Lenin

    Dont knock comrade swans financial agility and innovation . Before politics he as secretary treasurer of the south Queensland technical teachers collective that was why comrade rudd made him his treasurer ,he was used to handling hundreds of dollars .

  46. Alan Austin

    Interesting discussion. Thanks to all genuine contributors.
    The response to those who have suggested that the ATO will happily prosecute any and all tax dodgers is that they are severely constrained in so doing by the reduction in resources, including number of personnel, in their legal remedies department, or whatever it is called these days.
    Taking a major corporation to court involves weeks of investigation, then more weeks seeking a mediated resolution, then briefing counsel, then jumping through all the courtroom hoops.
    Every case takes time, personnel and money.
    The ATO annual reports reveal that resources for this have been cut substantially since 2013.

  47. Tel

    The actual ATO reports say the complete opposite. They say compliance is good and companies are cooperating. They have been collecting more money than ever.

    Our engagement with large businesses focuses on a cooperative relationship, transparency, prevention before correction, early assurance and certainty for all parties. This approach is our starting position for working with all businesses and by far, the majority of businesses work this way with us.

    Our tolerance, and that of the community’s, for game-playing and tax avoidance has dropped considerably. We have been and will be very deliberate and strong in our messages and actions with those seeking to avoid their tax obligations. I have been very pleased with the compliance work of our International Structures and Profit Shifting Program, raising $1.2 billion in liabilities since the program started in 2013.

    The introduction of the Multinational Anti-Avoidance Law, the transparency measures and the voluntary disclosure code are all tools to influence changes in the behaviour of taxpayers and I am grateful that we have such a strong suite of tools to draw on and use as necessary.

    The investment in the Tax Avoidance Taskforce, announced in Budget 2016–17, was a welcome endorsement and vote of confidence in the work we have done to date in this area. Over the next three years, we will be undertaking significantly more work, reporting to the community regularly about our actions and results.

    I would also like to acknowledge the work of the ATO in helping drive an international approach to dealing with the data leak from Mossack Fonseca, known as the Panama Papers leak. In April 2016, the ATO initiated a worldwide collaboration of tax authorities to deal with the phenomenon.

    Also a special thanks for funding going to their “Tax Avoidance Taskforce”. Doesn’t sound anything remotely like complaints over lack of funding.

  48. Neil

    I think this tax avoidance issue has come up because Rudd/Gillard trashed the budget and lefties want to shift the blame to those nasty multi-nationals avoiding tax.

  49. Alan Austin

    Yes and no, Tel.

    You are quoting the Commissioner’s puff piece there, in which he is telling the Government what a great job he and his team are doing.

    The critical data is in the body of the annual reports. And we do need to compare annual reports before the 2013 election with those after. Take FBT, for example.

    Company tax collected fell in 2014-15 by $359 million, or -0.53%. This is consistent with ABS figures showing companies overall reported lower profits in 2014-15, down by 9.5%.

    But despite business profits suffering badly over the year — the worst annual decline in the 22 years for which data is available — expenditure on perks that incur FBT increased impressively. The rise in 2014-15 in FBT was $270 million, for a total of $4.35 billion. That’s a healthy increase of 6.6%, compared with 4.0% the year before and 5.1% in 2012-13.

    How can that be? Could companies be under-reporting profits, perhaps? Could the ATO be less vigilant than before?

    The chapter on dispute settlement, page 62, shows almost 400 disputes were “settled” without any audit. No checks. Let ‘em pay what they want. The outcomes of disputes involving “large businesses” shows a huge variance from the $5.608 billion the ATO sought to collect initially and what it settled for — $2.934 billion. That $2.674 billion difference is a huge chunk out of the year’s total shortfall. It is more than double the $1.189 billion for the previous year, and nearly treble the $997 million in 2012-13.

    Damningly, the variance over the year as a whole between total collections ($336.8 billion) and the budgeted take ($346.3 billion) is a staggering $9.5 billion. Almost half of this, $4.7 billion, was the shortfall in company tax.

    It takes time and effort, Tel, but we can see what is really happening if we want to.

  50. .

    Damningly, the variance over the year as a whole between total collections ($336.8 billion) and the budgeted take ($346.3 billion) is a staggering $9.5 billion. Almost half of this, $4.7 billion, was the shortfall in company tax.

    Maybe the ATO is wrong sometimes?


  51. john constantine

    Collecting only 99% of the budgeted take instead of 100% of predictions is damning evidence of corrupt behaviour?.

    All your money is belong us, squeal the left.

  52. Alan Austin

    If only it was 1% being lost, John. If only …
    The quantum of the company tax shortfall in each of the last three years – according to reasonably fair estimates based on the published data – is almost the same as the budget deficits – around $38 billion annually.

  53. .

    …now what about the years where it exceeds estimates, you dolt?

  54. Neil

    Budgeted take? I guess you are talking about budget estimates. Who could ever forget this

    The four years of surpluses I announce tonight are a powerful endorsement of the strength of our economy, resilience of our people, and success of our policies.

    Wayne SWan Budget Speech May 2013

    The Treasury officials who were involved in those estimates should be in prison.

  55. Alan Austin

    Don’t forget what others said in 2012 and 2013, Neil:

    “… the Coalition identified $50 billion of savings, for an $11 billion improvement in the budget bottom line and a reduction of $30 billion in net debt.” – Tony Abbott

    “… under the Coalition, the Government will live within its means by returning the budget to surplus. And we will stabilise and repay the $340 billion of Labor debt.” – Joe Hockey

    “… we will achieve a surplus in our first year in office and we will achieve a surplus for every year of our first term.” – Joe Hockey

    This is not an issue confined to Labor, is it, Neil?

  56. Neil

    This is not an issue confined to Labor, is it, Neil?

    Hockey made those statements in Opposition based on the numbers in Swans budget. Swan said in May 2012 there would be 4 surplus budgets 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015. Hockey was stupid to trust Swan/Treasury.

    And those Treasury officials involved in that 2012 budget which promised a surplus for that year and the next 3 should be in prison.

  57. Alan Austin

    Remember, Neil, that both Labor and the Coalition in 2012 and 2013 were operating in the tumultuous global environment of the GFC, with several OECD countries still in recession. That period came to an end in late 2013 when the last of the developed countries emerged from recession. Since then, things have been much calmer. And strong global growth has resumed.

    Also since then, Joe Hockey forecast in his 2014 budget speech budget deficits totalling -$30.5 billion for the three financial years from 2015-16 to 2017-18. This was accompanied by smug assurances that the Coalition was not like Labor and would deliver what they promised.

    The figures in last December’s MYEFO show actual and forecast outcomes for that period at $104.8 billion. That is a blow-out of 344% — in just two years.

    Scott Morrison himself announced in his 2015 MYEFO that the cumulative deficits for the four years 2015-16 to 2018-19 would be $108.3 billion. The 2016 MYEFO adjusted that to $124.5 billion, a blow-out of $16.2 billion – or 15% – in just one year.

    Those are all Coalition numbers, Neil. So the point is valid. This is not an issue confined to Labor.

  58. Neil

    Still more accurate than Swans predictions. Swan predicted in May 2012 surplus budgets of $1.5B, $2B, $5.3B and $7.5B. They turned out to be deficits of $18B, $48B, $38B & $39B.

    By the way i noticed to left out the 2014 figure in your blowout statement. I guess you wanted to twist the blowout even more.

    But something should be done about these Treasury projections because they are untruthful

  59. Alan Austin

    The 2014 outcome should be left out, Neil, simply because it was neither Labor’s nor the Coalition’s.

    The heads of Treasury and the Finance Department in their 2013 PEFO predicted a 2013-14 deficit of -$30.1 billion. Joe Hockey then delivered a deficit of -$48.5 billion. That’s a blow-out of $18.4 billion in just his first few months.

    You certainly cannot blame Mr Swan for the outcomes after he left office. They are entirely the work of the Coalition.

    You must take into account also, Neil, that in 2012 much of the world was still grppling with the GFC. About ten OECD countries were still in recession that year.

    In 2014, only Finland and Japan were in technical recession, and only briefly.

    By the second half of 2014 the global recovery was well underway. There has been no excuse for any deficit thereafter.

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