Unions have reacted angrily to the loss of FIFO remote area tax benefits announced in the Federal Budget on Tuesday.
FIFO employees are set to lose between $57 and $1173 a year in their Zone Tax Offset allowance, depending on the area where they work. This will boost the government’s coffers by about $110 million a year.
Port Hedland FIFOs are likely to be hardest hit, being north of the Exmouth line where the maximum benefit kicks in. The loss will cost them about $23 per week.
Unions WA secretary Meredith Hammat said they opposed the cutting of an important tax concession for working people.
“FIFO work can be well paid, but such work is often insecure or results in high turnover because of the costs of lost time with families, poorer health and wellbeing,” she said.
“The Abbott Government would be better served ensuring that resource corporations pay a greater share of tax for the extraction of publicly-owned resources rather than going after working people.”
WA Premier Colin Barnett said that FIFOs wouldn’t like the measure.
“No doubt about that, but it’s a reasonable thing to do,” he said.
“It will shift the balance of the zone allowance back onto permanent residents and promote population growth in the north – and that’s good.”
Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey said the government would exclude FIFO workers from the Zone Tax Offset, where their normal residence is not within a ‘zone’. This measure would take effect from July 1.
“This measure will better target the ZTO to taxpayers who have taken up genuine residence within the zones. This will align ZTO with the original intent of the policy, which was to support genuine residents,” Mr Hockey said.
Zone A is defined as north of Exmouth and Zone B is south of that line, excluding Perth and the south west. Other remote towns that benefit are defined as “special areas”.
Reported by Ray Sparvell, WAToday, May 13 2015.