Death duties

Ordinarily, I would expect that a Government decision to introduce taxes on the proceeds of a superannuation fund payment to the dependants of a recently deceased person, would be considered a type of death duty. The imposition of that tax would then be considered the imposition of death duties. Call me old-fashioned.

Our current Government, in its budget night announced proposals, introduced death duties. Apparently, Treasury and or the Tax Office believes the measure will raise approximately $350m per annum, so it is not a trivial amount. Two aspects of this announcement are problematic: 1) it is yet another tax increase, and 2) the language used by the Government to hide the real nature of the decision.

The fiscal deficit that exists will not be solved by increasing taxes. It will only be solved by reducing Government expenditure. Taxes are damaging to an economy. There is no magic pudding, there is no perpetual wealth fund that can forever be plundered. Taxes strangle the life out of economies.

The Government announcement about death duties did not, as far as I can tell, make any reference to ‘death’ and ‘duties’ and ‘we will introduce’ in the same sentence or even in the same chapter. Instead, it was all about removing an obscure corner of the tax laws that is outdated and inconsistently applied. And it is probably a rort for rich people, even if they have to die to receive it. Those rich people will do anything to rort our tax system.

Actually the Treasurer didn’t actually say those last two sentences, but he appears to be very happy to let that sentiment be known in other ways.