Backpacker tax changes are unfair and unreasonable: Here’s how to fix the problem

Every worker in Australia, regardless of where they come from, should be treated fairly under the law – including when it comes to taxation.

But with the Turnbull Government proposing a draconian 32.5 cents in the dollar tax on backpackers, these workers will be driven underground and to the cash-in-hand black market. Far from helping the government to raise revenue, this tax will instead drive people away and increase the likelihood of cash-in-hand work.

The Meat Workers Union strongly believes that this problem can only be addressed at the source by restricting ABN access and by introducing mandatory Tax File Number requirements.

We call on all parties to stand up against this unfair tax and instead take the simple measures that will cut the problem off at the source.

Mandatory Tax File Numbers mean fairer taxes…

The AMIEU Newcastle & Northern Branch has extensive experience with international visitors on working holiday visas, and we believe in no uncertain terms that this new ‘Backpacker Tax’ is short-sighted and dangerous.

Rather than slamming every single backpacker with a near-33% tax rate, the correct way to address the problem would be to mandate that all working holiday visa holders register for an Australian Tax File Number (TFN), allowing them to be tracked and taxed like a regular Australian citizen.

…but an ABN is free pass for exploitation

We also ask that the Government urgently look into protecting working holiday visa holders from exploitation by tightening the qualifications on holding an Australian Business Number (ABN).

Unscrupulous labour hire companies currently use ABN loopholes in order to class working holiday visa holders as “contractors”, enabling them to pay minimal amounts, demand unreasonable hours and conditions, and avoid taxation scrutiny.

If all working holiday visa holders used a TFN instead of ABN, this kind of exploitation would become much more difficult. Exploitative companies would be forced to treat working holiday visa holders as employees, not as contractors – as Australian citizens, not as disposable trash.

We believe that all workers should have the same tax rights and tax protections in Australia. Workers should not be discriminated against simply because they are enjoying a working holiday in our great nation.

Everyone must have equal rights and responsibilities under the law, but this short-sighted attempt to discriminate against backpackers will do more harm than good.

For more information, contact:

Grant Courtney
AMIEU Newcastle & Northern Branch
PH: 02 4929 5496 or 0417 118 945

Photo courtesy ABC Rural.