Mining tax best of a bad situation

A SUPER profits tax on miners was forecast to raise billions of dollars in its first year and this would fund other federal government spending programs.

As it was revealed a couple of weeks ago the tax ended up gathering about $146 million - a significant shortfall.

Yesterday we learned that, had the original super profits tax proposed by former prime minister Kevin Rudd and the current treasurer Wayne Swan been implemented, due to the poor returns to mining enterprises, Australians would have had to pay the miners back the money they'd already paid in royalties.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, in Western Australia alone, iron ore royalty payments amount to $4 billion a year. This would have been paid to the companies whether or not they owed any super profits tax, meaning they would have received a cheque from the government.

This financial transaction, had it occurred, would defy any logic in imposing the tax in the first instance.

The premise of the mining super profits tax was to ensure more money stayed in Australia for Australians rather than flowing into the coffers of off-shore companies. It was a perfectly easy argument to promote.

But somewhere in the translation of bureaucracy things have come awry and, had not circumstances been different, we the taxpayer would have copped it in the neck.

So we must praise Prime Minister Gillard for amending the original idea after Mr Rudd was shifted aside, and ensuring taxpayers' hard earned cash did not flow backwards through the system.

The nation's taxpayers - both small and large deserve better than this mix-up. Both sides of the house need to revisit the taxation system to ensure it is not only equitable but workable.

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