I just paid my Hong Kong income tax for what will likely be the last time (because I’m leaving Hong Kong).
On the one hand, it’s easy to think about how low Hong Kong taxes are relative to most other places. It’s a flat tax, the entire form is four pages and most people do not need to hire an accountant to complete the form for them.
On the other hand, I think about John Tsang and where our tax dollars go and don’t go. (Tsang, btw, earns more than HK$3.6 million per year, as of 2013. He certainly doesn’t earn it.)
Hong Kong has amassed equity reserves that are the envy of the world. Every year, those reserves grow, because Hong Kong taxes are too high. It goes to the ludicrously unnecessary Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai bridge. It goes to that high speed rail that has gone way over budget and that no one needs. It went to that ridiculous new eyesore of a cruise ship terminal that even the cruise ship companies wouldn’t pay for.
It does not go to the elderly who scrounge through garbage bins looking for discarded beer cans and bits of cardboard that they can bring to a recycling center so that they can afford a tin of cat food for dinner. It does not go to the people in Hong Kong who are so poor that they live in cages in Sham Shui Po.
Taxes should be lowered – Hong Kong is in no danger of running out of money as the government makes huge amounts on real estate transactions and doesn’t need to spend money to support a military force – or the spending should ensure more equitable distribution. Raise the floor so that the minimum income for paying tax is higher and/or take some of those tens of billions of dollars sitting around and do something for the poor for a change.