Levies, taxes, rates – they’re all the same

Don’t be fooled.

A levy is another name for a tax.

The difference is they’re aimed at specific groups of people, based on perimeters beyond just income brackets.

It’s a political tool used to justify extracting more cash from workers to convince those same people the nation’s economic health is in check.

The Fire and Emergency Services Levy (FESL) has been a particularly prickly subject since it was introduced, and local councils have had no issue in objecting to its implication.

Local councils all over Australia exposed this tax for what it is, but it’s taken a request from the federal government for the likes of Leeton Council to do its dirty work.

NSW property owners were due to be charged the new Fire and Emergency Services Levy (FESL) on July 1, based on land value determined by the NSW Valuer-General.

The new system was to replace the previous system, which was a tax based on insurance policies.

This new tax was nothing unusual – there are an abundance of federal and state levies Australian workers are obliged to pay.

The Medicare levy, National Disability Insurance Scheme, specific flood disaster payments, they’re all extra payments workers are expected to pay from time to time.

The Medicare levy goes towards paying for Australia’s universal access to health care.

It’s partly funded by taxpayers earning over a certain threshold, who hand over a levy of two per cent of their annual income.

Where the FESL departed from most others levies is the means of collection.

Instead of adding the levy to workers’ income taxes, the federal government specifically targeted ratepayers nation-wide.

Local councils, including Leeton Shire Council, reacted with outrage upon the policy’s announcement.

It was partly due to councils being made to collect the levy on behalf of the state government. 

The other reason some councils have been particularly critical is because the funds collected from ratepayers aren’t necessarily guaranteed to be spent locally.

In fact, many have asked whether the FESL funds are even guaranteed to be spent on Fire and Emergency Services.

The NSW government announced this week it would delay the introduction of the levy, after the push back from local councils and ratepayers.