OPINION: Why should mere mortals carry the tax bundle?

IS IT just me or does everyone feel like they are doing the heavy lifting?

I feel quite proud of the tax I pay. I feel very lucky to live in a country with world class health and education opportunities and I am happy to contribute.

Rich people who don't pay tax annoy me.

Last year, 55 of Australia's highest earners paid no income tax at all, not even the Medicare levy.

This shameful group, who earned at least 30 times more than you and I, all managed to write their taxable incomes down to below the $18,200 tax-free threshold.

Tax office statistics show that 40 of the 55 wrote off an incredible $42.5 million for the "cost of managing tax affairs".

So a bunch of Australians who claim they are living below the tax-free threshold require accountants charging more than a million dollars a year.

And then there's Clive.

Administrators claimed Clive Palmer's Townsville refinery could have survived the drop in nickel prices if millions of dollars had not been shifted out of the business.

Instead, 800 people are out of work because Queensland Nickel paid for vintage cars, a $20 million political campaign, Titanic II and gave almost $15 million to Mr Palmer himself.

I don't want to be a billionaire basher because I googled "What billionaires contribute to society" and they're pretty handy. Just by being rich, they encourage technology and innovation.

Air travel, TVs, mobile phones and computers were prohibitively expensive at first. The only reason they made it onto the shelves at all is that manufacturers knew there were enough rich people out there to buy them.

Billionaires get them first and eventually the price comes down far enough that mere mortals can buy them too.

There's a school of thought that rich people are motivational.

Apparently, with role models like Jamie Packer, we work harder and more creatively than we would if we had never heard of owning a yacht or dating a 1980's pop star.

Billionaires also own companies that provide jobs and pay GST on all they consume. Which is all good, but I don't think it excludes them, legally or morally, from paying their share of income tax.

Taxes are the price we pay for a civilised society. Without them there would be no schools, hospitals, police or subsidies for struggling multi-nationals.

Our tax system is riddled with rorts for the rich, while you and I are being asked to accept belt tightening in the national interest.

Of course, the government needs to take responsibility but so do individuals.

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