Today is Tax Freedom Day – the day when you finally finish paying for the government’s spending and start working for yourself. It’s coming later and later.

Every year the Centre for Independent Studies does the arithmetic to find Tax Freedom Day by dividing total per capita tax revenues by GDP per head. Most years, regardless of the political party in government, the tax take as a proportion of the nation’s GDP gets bigger. Total per capita taxation across all levels of government in 2002-03 (the latest available dates) came to $12,018, according to the ABS. GDP per person in 2002-03 was $37,172 (ABS again). This means taxation absorbed 32.33% of GDP, or 118 out of 365 days of the year. The 119th day of 2005 is today, 29 April.

With the tax revolt on the government’s backbench suppressed for the time being, the prime minister and treasurer won’t be relieved to hear the findings of Professor Peter Saunders, social research director at CIS. He says: “This year marks the latest date on which it has ever fallen. Tax Freedom Day this year is a full week later than it was last year.” Ah well. It would be even more embarrassing for them if it had fallen the day before the Budget – or the day after.

Peter Fray

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