He’s a one-time electronics entrepreneur whose net worth was once $50 million.
But Australian philanthropist and social entrepreneur Dick Smith has a real problem with the super wealthy, especially when it comes to paying taxes.
Just last month, the Australian Tax Office revealed that one in five privately-owned companies with revenue exceeded $100 million paid no tax last year.
The news came just as the Turnbull government — which has put taxation at the centre of its reforms — announced plans to exempt private companies from public disclosure of their annual tax contribution.
“If you have turnover of $100 million you should be proud to show you are paying your tax – and most are,” Smith told Fairfax Media.
The argument, as brought forward by private business owners and high-wealth individuals, was that a forced disclosure would put company owners at risk of target kidnappings.
“They do it themselves. They buy waterfront properties, big boats, and big planes. They show their wealth off,” he said.
“I’m really disappointed in the Coalition on this, I think it is very important they don’t change this and I am asking the Prime Minister not to change this. Otherwise he will be ratting on typical Australians who pay their tax,” Smith said.
But Smith’s qualms with rich Aussies isn’t a secret.
Earlier this year, Crikey reported that Smith, after having found out that BRW was considering him for their annual rich list of Australia’s 200 wealthiest individuals and families, called up BRW to ask how much he would need to donate to charity to avoid being on the list. He reportedly donated $4 million to the Salvation Army after hearing this.
In March, during the launch of the Salvation Army’s Red Shield Appeal, Smith took another dig at wealthy individuals who weren’t dedicating more of their income to philanthropic efforts.
“I have two of my relatively close friends who are extremely wealthy — probably worth over $100m each, and I don’t think they give any money at all,” Smith said during the launch.
“If they do, they do it extremely secretively.
“Both of them are not that happy. They seem to have sort of a chip on their shoulder, always complaining and whinging.”
Smith — who has donated $7 million to charity since founding his eponymous electronics company — said he has a duty to “put something back into Australia”.
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