For much of the past decade I lived in Vienna, Austria. If you own a television, a radio or even just an internet connection you pay the state about €25 a month for the privilege, to fund various national broadcasters. Think of it as Netflix, only compulsory…more expensive…not on demand…with ads…and shittier.
Of course, in Australia we also fund the national broadcasters. The particularly asinine thing about Austrian television tax is that it isn’t levied through the normal tax system. When a new household is formed, they are supposed to register with the TV tax regulator. But everyone ‘forgets’. One day years later, a representative comes knocking and signs you up – with no fine for prior non-payment.
I know people who got signed up for TV tax 6 months after moving in, and others who’ve been watching free TV for more than a decade and are still at large. They pinged us after about three years when my wife was at home on maternity leave. A large proportion of the tax raised must leak in the form of wages for enforcement employees.
This has almost nothing to do with the topic at hand. I mention TV tax only because it’s a silly tax. But not the silliest I can think of. That award quite likely belongs to stamp duty.
Stamp duty is the name for the one-off tax payable by the buyer whenever a property changes ownership. It’s the way we’ve levied property tax in Australia for decades. And it’s beyond silly. Continue reading “Stamp Duty is Stupid” →