Transport Minister Phil Twyford says the poor will pay less fuel tax than wealthier people.
He’s right in dollar terms but if he’s worried about the impact that’s not what matters, it’s the proportion of income that counts:
“Transport Minister Phil Twyford is either very brave or very stupid in arguing that fuel taxes are easiest on the poor,” says Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke.
“He is doggedly focusing on the dollar impact of the fuel tax, and ignoring the cost as a proportion of total income.”
“It’s no surprise that rich people buy more fuel – they buy more of everything. But people on low incomes spend a far larger proportion of their income on fuel, meaning a tax hike will have a far bigger effect on their real quality of life.”
“It only takes five minutes to graph Twyford’s figures and see the real impact of fuel tax.”
“The verdict is clear: fuel taxes whack the poorest almost four times as hard as they whack the richest.”
“It’s stunning to see such selective ignorance from a centre-left Minister who is meant to understand issues of fairness and equality. Isn’t this stuff Labour Party 101?”
As David Farrar points out, the poor consume less of almost everything (except tobacco) but spend a higher proportion of their income on it
The cost of the fuel tax will be greater for higher income people but the poor will pay more of what they earn on it:
Now let’s look at the average incomes for each decile
- Decile 1 – under $23,900
- Decile 5 – $64,400 to $80,199
- Decile 10 – over $188,900
So the extra fuel tax as a percentage of income is:
- Decile 1: 0.52%
- Decile 5: 0.27%
- Decile 10: 0.14%
Let’s not forget it’s not just the direct cost that will hit the poorest hardest.
Every service and all goods with a transport component (and can you think of anything that doesn’t have one?) will be impacted by the tax and that will, sooner or later, lead to price increases, inflationary pressure and interest rate rises.
The Ardern/Peters/Shaw/Davidson coalition government, all parties in which purport to represent and work for the poor, is adding to the cost of living and making life harder for them.
And adding to that is yesterday’s announcement we’ll all be paying an extra 10.5 cents a litre over the next two years in excise tax.
Michael Redell writes on regressivity, petrol taxes, and ministerial PR at Croaking Cassandra.
Thomas Lumley examines the issue at Stats Chat.
Sam Warburton tweets on it here.