What age?

Today the oldest came home from school with a big letter & form about the kiddies applying for a Tax File Number. He’s nearly 15, by the way.

It seems that they are going to be taught about The Importance Of Tax File Numbers, and such like.

Further, they can register for a tax file number (which, in Australia, you keep for life). The registration process is somewhat more relaxed than required by a normal Joe Citizen.

But all this raises the issue of our Governments having their cake and eating it too:

  • You can get a tax file number at any age, so the government can track you as a good little citizen: You are good enough to lodge a tax return every year.
  • But you can’t drink alcoholic thingies until you are 18 years old.
  • You can’t operate a bank account or sign a contract until you are 18. Before then you are not considered to be a “natural person”.
  • But you can get married at 16 with parents consent, and 18 otherwise.
  • And you can drive a car from age 16!

Why, oh, why, is there no uniformity in any of this?

Why can you drive a car if you can’t sign a contract to buy it, or insure it?

Why can you have a tax file number and lodge a tax return when you don’t exist as a person in the eyes of the law?

And how can juniors be employed?

Ah! With parental consent!

But this is all crazy, if not good enough to do one thing, surely a person should be not good enough to do the others!

Madness all around us! Yet another example.


AND in matters of the horizontal kind, the male can be sixteen and the consenting female 14. The ages of both consenting people is different in each Australian state.

Comment by MillyMoo | May 15th, 2008 12:45 pm | Permalink

I hate to say it (well I don’t really) but calls for uniformity in superficially similar things is generally a gut reaction policy response rarely endorsed by reasoned consideration. Why are they not uniform? Because the circumstances are different in each case. The skills and capabilities needed to drive a car are very different from those to undertake taxable activities, and from the commitment through contracts to long term financial obligations. It very well may be that these different skills are considered to develop at different ages. Obviously the judgements on the appropriate ages may be wrong, nonetheless this does not imply that these age limits should be the same.

I think it is more likely to be “madness” to think that these age limits should be the same, given the diverse cognitive requirements in consideration.

Comment by Flapple | May 15th, 2008 6:25 pm | Permalink

It’s not all that long ago that you could leave school and get a job when you were 14 and in my youth the Australian Navy took midshipmen when they were 14. Also, in the country, anybody at 14 could have a driving assessment done by their local constable and get a licence to drive a big truck [Dad's helpers etc].
There were a lot of kids when i was at High School who left at 14 and got a job; they were ‘educated for life’ and that was that. During World War 1 and 2 there boys of 15 and 16 who put up their ages and joined up to fight and die for their country. I had vacation employment when I was 14 and paid tax as well on the few paltry pounds that I earned. My father used to have to fill in a tax return for me mid year so I got it refunded.
Incredible to me how values change over the years.

Comment by Dad | May 16th, 2008 10:35 pm | Permalink

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