Monday, February 6, 2012

money makes the world go round

The Australian government is recently discussing the pro's and con's of the Living away from home allowance (LAFHA). This allowance means for people from overseas, who come to work in Australia and are not a permanent resident, that they get some part of their salary tax-free. The idea behind it is that somebody who comes to Australia for maybe a year might still have financial responsibilities in his/her home town and this tax-free money is supposed to compensate for that. The LAFHA is mainly split into two parts: part one says that what one pays as rent will be tax-free, part two gives a certain amount of money "for food" as tax-free (how much that is depends on how man people belong to the household and the amount is calculated fresh every year). The weird situation is, that the more rent ones pays the more salary becomes tax-free and from the governments point of view, this possibility as been abused too much during the last years.
But instead of finding a better way to regulate that, it seems that the current plan is to stop the whole LAHFA thing completely - already from July on. This of course would bring in quite a bit of tax-money, but for a lot of people it would mean a very sudden and sharp decrease of their net income. If one can trust the numbers I saw in an information session of my uni, we talk about something like 10k per year less. That's tough!
In general, I must say, that when I came here I was surprised about this kind of "free money" and the amount of it. So I would have no objections, if the government would reduce this amount a bit or bring in different rules, that prevent the abuse. But cutting it off completely is a bit like changing the rules in the middle of the game. I'm sure a lot of people informed them self much better about how much money they'll have in their pocket, than I did. And I'm sure that quite a few of them would have reconsidered the job offer if they were told that they will earn 10k or 15k less per year.
If the new taxation comes as planned, recruiting new staff from overseas will become much more difficult for universities and its very likely that quite a few people, who already work here, will think about the duration of their stay once more.
Interesting times...

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