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Your tax dollars

Tax (Thinkstock)
If you thought you were paying too much tax, then you might be right. This year, it will take New Zealanders 123 days of work to pay off our annual tax. That means a third of your work year will be spent paying tax.

But there's a new day of the year worth looking out for. It's called Tax Freedom Day, and it's the day we stop working for the government and start working for ourselves. It may be a fictional day, but the US Tax Foundation has been calculating it since the 1970s. New Zealand and many other countries do the same.

New Zealand's Tax Freedom Day for 2011 was May 3, two weeks earlier than in 1985, which means we'll work fewer days to pay off our tax bill. But it still lags behind Australia (April 19), the UK and the US (April 12).

On one hand, it seems silly comparing ourselves to larger economies that have generally higher wages. But on the other hand, if New Zealand is a smaller economy with low wages, you'd expect the general cost of living to be lower, balancing out the amount of tax a citizen pays in relation to their earnings and how much it costs them to live.

Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to be the case. We're a small economy with low wages and still work too long to pay off the amount of tax we're paying. What for? Schools that can't deal with bullies, politicians passing dodgy legislation, an overburdened health system and an outdated criminal justice system.

Norway's Tax Freedom Day is July 29. The Norwegian Progress Party has been advocating for Tax Freedom Day to become a national holiday, to highlight the problem.

But never fear, the Rugby World Cup is here. Accounting firm Staples Rodway says the cup should provide a "spike in revenues" along with a "boost in construction activity" later in the year.

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