Australian millionaires living tax free
If your dream is for a multimillion-dollar income without the nuisance of paying tax you could one day make a list like the one the Australian Taxation Office issued today.
There are 69 individual Australians who earned more than $1 million in 2016-17 and kept it all, tax free, the ATO revealed.
They didn't even pay the Medicare levy.
And there was no mucking around with common or garden variety millionaires.
The average gross income of the fortunate 69 was $3.7 million.
They paid for advice to protect them from the taxes most pay and it doesn't come cheap - 27 of them handed over an average $600,000 to have their tax affairs managed. And the fee was tax deductible.
The ATO figures are likely to heat up the tax debate during the coming election campaign as Labor wants to end franking credits, one of the tax free measures by which the big incomes are accumulated.
Labor also wants to restrict negative gearing on rental properties, another tax benefit for many of the 69. The Government has rejected both policies and accused Labor of wanting to increase taxes.
The number of wealthy and tax free seems to be growing. In 2015-16 there were 63 in this group and their average income was $2.9 million.
"Tax is the price we pay for living in a civilised society and everyone should pay their fair share," said Matt Grudnoff of The Australia Institute who extrapolated the numbers from the ATO list.
"Being able to afford expensive accountants should not be a way out of paying tax.
"When these unfair tax loopholes, such as refunding excess franking credits are rorted by wealthy individuals they should be closed as soon as possible.
"Doing so will not only make the taxation system fairer and more progressive, it will also discourage the largely unproductive industry of tax accountants who focus on finding and using complex tax loopholes."
Mr Grudnoff said 39 of the 69 earned franking credits averaging $213,000.
And seven of them claimed real estate losses averaging $41,000 that they used as tax deductions through negative gearing.