Sunday 20 November 2011

Who are the Australian 1%?

You're probably thinking that the 1% is made up of squillionaires like Twiggy Forrest and Nathan Tinkler and Gina Reinhart and that fat moron who is the Collingwood president - what's his name? Eddie Maguire.

Well, think again.

There are 22 million Australians. So the 1% are the 220,000 top earners.

We have a good idea what those at the very top make - the likes of James Packer and so on. But what about the person that is the 210,000th top earner, or the 220,000th top earner?

I once found, and copied, a tax table from the Henry Tax Review. I have never been able to find it again. It broke down the number of tax payers in every income bracket from $20,000 and below to $300,000 and above. From $20k to $80k, it slices the taxpayers into $5,000 increments. Above that, it's $10,000 increments, and above $200k, it uses $25,000 increments.

There are 40,000 people earning over $300,000. So that bracket ranges from those pulling in hundreds of millions per year down to $300,000. They are the top 0.18%.

There are 60,000 people making between $250,000 and $300,000. So we are now up to 100,000 people out of our 220,000 1 percenters.

Another 50,000 make between $200,000 and $250,000. We are now up to 150,000 people.

25,000 make between $180k and $200k. That's 175,000 in total.

40,000 make between $170k and $180k. We're now up to 215,000 in total - pretty close to 1%.

55,000 make between $160k and $170k. If we include them, we're up to 270,000 people, and we're up to 1.23% of the population. So let's draw the line at just under $170,000.

What sort of people earn over $170,000?

Academics for starters. Every university has a number of well paid staffers. Monash (page 78) for instance has one earning $390k and another on $810k. Interestingly, in 2009, the top bod at Monash made $1.2 million. La Trobe (page 60) uni, home to Robert Manne, paid 3 Council members between $240k and $600k. An additional 33 Executive Officers at La Trobe made over $170k.

Plenty of politicians are in the top 1% too - especially Premiers and Ministers. The base pay of a Federal parliamentarian is $140k, but that's topped up with an electoral allowance of between $32k and $48k and $19.5k for a vehicle, plus travel allowances etc, so even saintly Bob Brown and his pack of Greentards are in the 1%.

Just about every local, state and federal department will have at least one manager in the 1%. Consider the Department of Climate Change - it has 50 managers earning over $170k! Fifty! The top person there earns $429k.

NSW Dept of Education - the Director General (page 95) is on $488k, the BER dude is on $427k (gee, wasn't he good value for money?) and there are 26 other managers making between $250k and $350k. There are another 46-55 SES officers possibly making over $170k (can't tell from the report - it's not detailed enough).

Same with Health - the DG for Health (page 205) in NSW makes $435k and her various minions are all scraping by on well over $170k. And that of course doesn't include any of the Doctors and Specialists making well over that amount. Got a cancerous lump that needs removing? Well, if you think those in the 1% are paid too much, I suggest you tell your surgeon and anaesthetist and radiologist that they are overpaid oafs who should be given a compulsory financial haircut when you're lying on the operating table about to go under.

Then there are entertainers, actors and sports stars - too numerous to mention really. And then there are the lawyers at the big end of town - especially QCs. Plus architects and accountants.

Don't forget union officials, who are really on the gravy train - like Michael Williamson at the HSU, pocketing $350,000 per year. It's hard to tell what other union officials are making, because their annual reports are so opaque. For instance, the RTBU (Victoria) paid a total of $732k to its officials last year, but the report does not list who those officials are and how much each was paid.

I could go on and on for hours here, but it's a hot day and I feel like a swim.

I just wanted to make the point that the top 1% is not made up of fat cats in large financial institutions grinding the faces of the poor. The 1% is not made up of plutocrats swanning around in private jets and swimming in champagne.


Simon said...

Boab - interesting but the 1% figure you use is misleading because a lot of the 22m are not income earners (not talking about those who opt out but children or handicapped). Presumably the table that shows the top 200,000 earners also gives the total number of PAYE tax payers. That number will of course be understated because it won't capture all of the income earners who are not PAYE but it would still be an interestign figure to work out the 1% on.

Boy on a bike said...

Simon, I was wondering when someone was going to point that out. There are about 9.4 million income tax payers, so if you want to take the top 1% of them, then the 1% income level kicks in at around $250k. Which still includes most of the people I listed.

I have seen other analyses which use family income instead of individual income.

As usual, there are lies, damned lies and statistics.

Anonymous said...

hmm..the top 1% does not pay any tax or so I thought.... they own the assets, and their assets grow, but in tax safe ways, and I think that is the problem highlighted by the movement?

Boy on a bike said...

The top 1% paid nearly $17 billion in income tax, out of a total income tax haul of $123 billion.

So in fact the top 1% paid 13.6% of all income tax.

The top 10% paid $51.8 billion in tax, or 42% of the total income tax haul.

How is that "not paying any tax"?

Anonymous said...

Good for them, Im down the bottom trying to get up.