Flat White

If Labor ever wants to be trusted with the economy, then Labor MPs should learn how tax rates work

7 October 2020

10:58 AM

7 October 2020

10:58 AM

The federal budget’s failure to fund adult remedial math will surely hurt the future prospects of Labor MP Joanne Ryan.

Ryan, who was a school principal before succeeding Julia Gillard in the seat of Lalor, could do with some maths tutoring after last night tweeting her outrage at the government’s budget.

“Someone earning $45,000 will pay the same amount of tax as someone on $120,000” she bewailed.

It was difficult to know whether the Opposition Whip’s tweet was embarrassingly mistaken or willfully deceitful.

A federal politician should know the difference between the rate of tax and the amount of tax.

And a former school teacher and principal should surely know that X per cent of $45,000 is very different to X per cent of $120,000


According to the government’s budget website, though on a similar tax rate, a person earning $45,000 a year will pay $4812 in tax while a person earning $120,000 will pay $31687.

It’s not exactly the example of outrageous inequality and unfairness that Ryan portrayed it to be.

Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers might like to put his doctorate to use and explain to his Labor colleagues that the percentage of tax paid and the amount of tax paid are not the same things.

Ryan’s failure to understand basic math and tax law was surpassed only by the number of people who appeared to believe her tweet. 

As of this morning, her tweet had been retweeted more than 800 times and liked more than 2000 times.

“That’s me on a measly $45,000,” wrote one Twitter user in reply to Ms Ryan.

“The wage of a woman in a caring profession. That’s totally f*ed.”

Others outraged at the Liberals — but who should actually have been outraged at Ms Ryan’s terrible maths — wrote: “Ain`t that the Liberal way!” and “My stomach just turned over. Anxiety is rising”.

Well, your stomach would turn if Ryan was accurate. It would mean a person earning $45,000 would be slugged $31,687 in tax, putting them on a tax rate of around 70 per cent.

But of course, Ryan’s tweet was as about accurate as former Labor treasurer Wayne Swan’s surplus predictions, which is to say that it was completely inaccurate.

If Labor ever wants to be trusted with the economy then Labor MPs might want to first learn how tax rates work, or at least learn basic maths.

To that end, my 15-year-old son is available to tutor the good Ms Ryan. He will charge $30 for a half-hour lesson and, if she pays with a $50 note, he will of course return to her $5 in change.

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