The ATO and social solidarity

Jessica Gilbey, a 25-year-old PHD student, won’t see a cent of the payments even though she lives on a piecemeal casual income that is often less than $100 a week. Technically, she did not pay any tax in 2007-08 so she will not receive the payment.

“I was completely devastated,” she said. “You feel left out, you feel like you’re not a citizen.”

SMH, 6 April 2009

Ms Gilbey strikes me as a truly pathetic individual if her sense of social solidarity and citizenship comes from whether the tax office sends her a handout, which is a symbol not of social membership but a once-off do something, anything response to a slowing economy.

And what is ‘technically’ paying no tax? I think what they mean is that ‘technically’ she did pay some small sums in 2007-08, but the ATO has already given it back to her, meaning that her net tax payment was zero.

I’ve heard quite a few complaints along these lines, none of which I have any sympathy for. It’s just an example of how the welfare state brings out the worst in people, encouraging them to whinge about not getting handouts instead of working.

Jessica Gilbey says she was misquoted.