Taxing the super rich by Susan Grimsdell

NZ’s richest man, Graeme Hart, got headlines not long ago for donating fishing boats, tractors and a container of breakfast food to Tonga.  Well, good on him, but where was the accompanying headline reporting that he is one of the super rich people who, thanks to a rigged economic system, grew his fortune by $3.4 billion during the Covid pandemic which has caused the worst recession since the 1930s. 

Graeme Hart, a very rich man

Avoidance of tax

Recently, Hart lost a tax fight in Chile, a battle he had been fighting in the courts for 6 years.  The amount he is now forced to pay is $14 million.  This is one example of how he, like almost all super wealthy people, will go to great lengths not to pay taxes.  To the average person, $14 million is a lot of money, but to Hart, it’s around one tenth of one per cent of his $11 billion wealth.  Even ordinary types like us would hardly notice losing one tenth of one percent of our “wealth” yet he paid lawyers for 6 years, he was so desperate not to pay it.     

Graeme Hart’s superyacht Ulysses

Let’s not get too excited about Hart’s gift to Tonga.  Whatever the total cost, it is less than peanuts to him.   The money for those boats and tractors comes, not from Mr Hart getting up early day after day and turning up at a rest home to look after patients with Alzheimers, including wiping their bottoms.  It comes from the way the economic system is organised, such that in the pandemic he watched billions of dollars poured into his bank account. 

Benefits of tax

Tax is the contribution each of us makes to make sure we have a decent society, with health care, education, transport, libraries, and all the other wonderful things we all benefit from.  People who pay expensive lawyers to find ways not to pay, should not be praised by headlines in the paper when they finally cough up a few dollars to help people in need.  They should be shown up for what they are – users riding on the backs of the rest of us.  Incidentally, I bet that if Mr Hart becomes demented, he will want a person on the very lowest wage to turn up and wipe his bottom.

I would have respect for people like Hart if he committed to paying every cent of tax he and his companies owe, willingly. Now that would warrant a headline.   

One Comment on “Taxing the super rich by Susan Grimsdell

  1. Good luck with that Susan, but in the words of my least favourite ex-PM: In the great race of life always back ‘Self Interest’ …

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