Tuesday, 9 May 2017

What is a net taxpayer?

Poor old young David Seymour was on the twitter yesterday, complaining about tax

It didn't go well, to be honest. Perhaps not as badly as when his predecessor as leader of ACT endorsed incest, but its fair to say that David did struggle a bit. In the heat of battle, he divided the population into "net taxpayers" and others, but then this happened.

No, it doesn't make sense, and Mr Seymour was deservedly ridiculed. Then a deeper question was asked

This is a good question because Davy-boy is inviting us to consider whether we've paid more than we got back, but cash payments massively understate the value given by community volunteers, and the value received by everyone from public good institutions such as schools, hospitals, firefighting, police and the prison/rehab sector.

So, no-one can actually tell whether they're a "net taxpayer" without attaching a value to their consumption of public goods. Dean is obviously OK with being a "net taxpayer" because he feels that the broader deal is acceptable. Mr Seymour would prefer we only look at the ca$h because.....?


  1. The whole system of government and Budgets depend on valuing public goods (and benefits derived) in dollar terms. It is desirable for the government to ascribe values to things in dollar terms and for this to happen more often, eg water resources used by farmers for irrigation and runoff, so the costs and benefits of policy can be assessed. Without a universally accepted means of valuing goods, there is a high risk of waste (government subsidised casinos/stadia/yacht races/venture capital funds etc etc).

  2. I generally agree. More detailed analysis of costs and benefits might even help push against the rising tide of cronyism.