Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Who earns the most, and pays the most tax?

We do, in the Australian Capital Territory, according to Taxation Statistics 2005-06, a goldmine of information just released by the Australian Tax Office.

Residents of the ACT not only earn more on average than those of every other state, we also appear to pay more tax.

The latest figures on taxation by postcode released by the Tax Office yesterday confirm the Chief Minister’s frequent claim that the ACT has the highest average income in the nation.

The average taxable income reported by ACT residents in 2005-06 was $52,780 - well clear of the next highest state, NSW which reported $49,833...

Western Australia jumped into third place reporting an average taxable income of $48,692.

The totals are weighed down by the inclusion of people in part-time work and the use of tax arrangements to cut reported income. They include earnings from all reported sources including rents, dividends and capital gains in addition to wages.

Residents of the Northern Territory earned about the Australian average of $47,064. Victorians earned slightly less at $46,482.

The lowest earning states were Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania, reporting average incomes of $44,308, $42,778 and $40,446.

The state and territory averages disguise very high incomes in individual Australian postcodes. For instance, taxpayers living in the postcode 2027 which takes in Sydney’s Darling Point, Edgecliff and Point Piper appear to earn $146,243 – far in excess of what is earned in any ACT postcode.

In Perth taxpayers living in the postcode that takes in Peppermint Grove and Cottesloe Beach earn an average of $104,038.

The highest-earning Canberra postcode, 2603, reports an average income of $80,666. It takes in Forrest, Griffith, Manuka, and Red Hill.

The next highest earning psotcode, 2600, reports $70,753. It takes in Barton, Deakin and Yarralumla.

Canberra’s lowest earning postcode is 2615 which takes in the West Belconnen suburbs of Charnwood, Dunlop, Florey, Flynn, Fraser, Higgins, Holt, Latham, Macgregor, Melba and Spence. The average earned is $46,775.

ACT residents pay more tax on average than do those of other states. The mean Canberra tax payment in 2005-06 was $13,310 – well above the Australian average of $11,554 and comfortably above the NSW average of $12,720.

Canberra landlords appear to be particularly bad at making money. In every postcode but two their net rent earned was negative in 2005-06, presumably because of negative gearing suggesting that they are very exposed to any future downturn in property prices.

Around 14,000 of us appear to be resistant to the attractions of private health insurance to the point where we are prepared to pay extra tax not to take out cover. A total of 14,020 high earning Canberra residents chose to pay the Medicare levy surcharge rather than join a fund.

They were most likely to be found in the West Belconnen postcode of 2165 and in 2602 which takes in the inner-north suburbs of Ainslie, Dickson, Downer, Hackett, Lyneham, O'Connor and Watson.

The Tax Office says 9.4 million Australians paid tax during the year; around 185,000 of us in the ACT.

We claimed a total of $27 billion in deductions, including $13.1 billion in work-related expenses - a jump of 9.5% on the previous year.

Around three quarters of us chose to lodge our tax returns through a agent. But the use of e-tax is growing. It climbed 17 per cent during 2005-06 with the highest growth rate recorded among those Australians aged 55 to 74.