Dear Mr Taxman,
Transferring another chunk of cash to the Inland Revenue Department has got me thinking about comments I’ve been hearing from married-with-children friends about this fund-sucking time of year.
“Oh, we can claim marriage allowance.”
“Oh, my tax bill is nothing – having kids makes it so cheap.”
In a true reflection of Hong Kong’s social and living conditions, we also have Dependent Brother or Dependent Sister Allowance and Dependent Parent and Dependent Grandparent Allowance. Single mothers, too, get tax breaks – and rightly so.
But, Mr Taxman, I have a bee in my bonnet. And don’t get me wrong, Hong Kong’s low personal tax rate is one of the many things that make this such a great place to live. Still, how about amending the tax law to recognise a different breed – the Single Childless.
“Yes,” I hear you say, “but most young singles live with their parents before they get married.” (Thank you, ridiculously high rents!)
This, though, is a dynamic that is changing around the globe. A 2015 report by the Education University of Hong Kong Research Repository looked into one-person households (OPH) – the fastest-growing household sector in many parts of the world – to explore what was happening in Asia. It found that the number of young urban adults who live alone is growing. The report’s conclusion? “OPH will continue to increase in Asia in the next few decades due to the rapid ageing trend, declining marriage and fertility rates, and increase in divorce and migration.”
There you have it, Mr Taxman, we do exist.
This section of society – one that puts the least burden on resources such as health care and education, and is also among the most stigmatised, as American author Bella DePaulo so wonderfully spells out in her book, Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After (2004) – is on the rise.
So, Mr Taxman, how about creating a Single Childless Allowance and giving us a break, too?