OPINION: A woman was recently sentenced to two years jail for benefit fraud. The amount was $132,308.
Research by Dr Lisa Marriott of Victoria University shows that white collar criminals evading the tax man are far less likely to go to jail than blue collar criminals.
As Dr Marriott states, ''they have the same victim - the Government and society - and yet one is punished more harshly than the other.''
Dr Marriott, after examining three years of tax evasion and welfare fraud, found that welfare fraud was significantly more likely to be prosecuted than tax crime.
In 2010 alone tax evaders cheated the country of between $1 billion to $6 billion while welfare fraud cost $39 million.
Average offending for welfare fraudsters was $70,000 and those found guilty had a 60 per cent chance of being jailed. For tax evaders the average was $270,000 but those found guilty had a 22 per cent chance of being jailed. A welfare fraudster who stole $148,000 at the upper end of the scale received 18 months jail. A tax cheat who failed to pay $222,000 in tax at the lower end of the scale got eight months home detention and 250 hours community service.
Other examples are:
$106,000 - 20 months jail.
$121,000 - 8 months jail.
$128,000 - 18 months jail.
White collar tax fraud.
$222,000 - 8 months home detention and 250 hours community service.
$230,000 - 6 months community service.
$500,000 - 12 months home detention.
4. $630,000 - 30 months prison.
No class bias when it comes to sentencing? Rubbish.
- The Southland Times