Tax take vs tax rate

June 30, 2020

We have a choice.

We can vote for parties that want higher tax rates or for those that foster a higher tax take.

What’s the difference?

Higher tax rates are a hand brake on productivity and economic growth and, hard as it is for some to grasp, often lead to a lower tax take.

A higher tax take resulting from increased productivity and economic growth can, in time, lead to lower tax rates.

Higher tax rates are the equivalent of dividing up the same sized pie – some gain and some lose.

Higher productivity and economic growth, increase the size of the pie, and/or number of pies, providing more for everyone.

The bigger and/or more numerous the pies, the smaller the proportion of each slice that is needed for tax.

We have a choice.

We can vote for parties that want to take more or we can vote for parties that want to help us grow more.

 

We have a choice.

We can vote for parties that think they are better at spending our money than we are or for parties that leave us with more of what we earn.


Reds’ policy path to poverty

June 29, 2020

The Reds have announced an $8 billion tax grab:

The Green Party have unveiled a sweeping new welfare policy that would guarantee a weekly income of at least $325, paid for by a wealth tax on millionaires and two new income tax brackets on high-earners. . . 

The $325 after-tax payment would be paid to every adult not in fulltime paid work – including students, part-time workers, and the unemployed. The student allowance and Jobseekers benefit would be replaced. . . 

It would be topped up by $110 for sole parents, and the current best start payment would be expanded from $60 per child to $100 per child, and made universal for children up to three instead of two.

This guaranteed minimum income plan would cost $7.9b a year – roughly half what is spent on NZ Super, but almost twice what is spent on current working age benefits.

Paying for all this would be a wealth tax of one per cent on net wealth of over $1 million and two per cent for assets over $2 million. The party expects this would hit only the wealthiest 6 per cent of Kiwis.

This would take the form of an annual payment and would only apply to those who owned those assets outright – not someone who still had a mortgage on their million-dollar home, for example.

That looks like everyone could avoid the tax by never paying off their mortgage, but the party wouldn’t be that stupid, would it?

Any party that thinks up this sort of economic vandalism could be.

The Taxpayers’ Union is slamming the Green Party’s proposed wealth tax as bureaucratic economic vandalism that would hammer job creators.

Taxpayers’ Union spokesperson Jordan Williams says, “The proposed wealth tax would mean the return of the dreaded compulsory asset valuations that made a capital gains tax so unpopular. A bureaucratic valuation scheme would incentivise people to hide their wealth, or shift it offshore. It would be a dream for tax accountants but hell for small business owners.”

“The policy also appears not to differentiate between asset types.  It would tax entrepreneurs creating jobs the same as someone sitting on an art collection. Ultimately it would cost jobs at the very time New Zealanders need entrepreneurs to create them.”

“Wealthy iwi groups sitting on often unproductive land would also be smashed under this scheme.  It’s bumper sticker type policy which is poorly thought through.”

“Any party that says you should raise taxes in the middle of a recession is divorced from reality. It is scary that all the work James Shaw has done to try and make the Greens more economically credible appears to be for nothing.”

Commenting specifically on the Green Party’s income support policy, Mr Williams says, “Under the Greens’ policy, a family of five with both parents on the dole would receive $1180 a week in taxpayer funds, assuming one of the kids is younger than three. That goes beyond generosity: it is using taxpayer funds to encourage long-term unemployment. Combined with the policies to tax job creators, this package would take a sledgehammer to New Zealand’s productivity.”

There’s no good time to increase taxes and a recession is an even worse time.

Recovery from the economic carnage wrought by the Covid-19 response requires investment, expansion and increased employment opportunities.

This policy will be a handbrake on all of those and an accelerator for benefit dependency which is a pathway to increased poverty.

This policy is typical of a party that’s more red than green and doesn’t understand that a greener country has to be well and truly in the black and you don’t there by taxing more.

New Zealanders gained a glimpse today of what a Labour Greens government would look like, and it involves a lot more taxes, National’s Finance spokesperson, Paul Goldsmith, said today. . . 

At a time when we need our successful small business people to invest and create more jobs, the Greens want to tax them more.

Rather than celebrating Kiwis doing well, the Greens seem to want to punish them.

The Greens never have the influence to get their way entirely, but they would push a Labour Greens coalition in the direction of higher taxes.

Labour have so far refused to rule out taxing people more if they win the election.

The very real fear many New Zealanders have is that this current government, which has $20 billion available for election spending, will spend whatever it takes to try to keep its poll numbers up until the 19 September election.

Then on the 20th, if they win, the smiles will drop and New Zealanders will be presented with the bill – higher taxes.

National has committed to no new taxes for Kiwis in our first term.

While the economy is going down, the Greens want to tax us more, and Labour haven’t ruled out doing the same.

That’s another very good reason to vote for a National/Act government that will focus on policies which foster the economic growth necessary to provide a pathway for progress.


About that fuel tax

June 26, 2020

The Taxpayers’ Unions is calling on the government to scrap the increase in the fuel tax which is due to take effect next week.

Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says, “The Government justified its annual hikes to fuel tax on the basis of funding infrastructure projects – the biggest one being Auckland Light Rail.”

“Now that light rail is canned, there is no excuse for next week’s hike to fuel tax. In fact, during an economic recession, hiking a tax on productive travel would be madness.”

“If Phil Twyford forges ahead with his planned tax hike, it should be seen as nothing more than a cynical revenue grab.”

And what about the tax already taken?

With plans for light rail from Auckland CBD to the airport abandoned. Gull asks what happens to the 11.5 cent per litre and an estimated $150 million annual tax take from the Auckland Regional Fuels Tax?

Gull, New Zealand’s leading innovative energy retailer, today questioned what happens to the Auckland Regional Fuels Tax levied at 11.5 cents per litre including GST on each litre of petrol and diesel delivered into the Auckland area. This Tax introduced in July 2018 raises an estimated $150 million dollars per year and would be happily welcomed back into the wallets of stretched households and businesses.

If the $300 million Taken over the last two years hasn’t been spent on light rail, where has it gone?

Dave Bodger General Manager Gull New Zealand says “we support greater investment in public transport, but with one of the largest projects now reported in the media as abandoned what happens to the tax that was imposed on Aucklanders to help fund this infrastructure? In tough times is this an opportunity to halt the tax while there is no plan? To reduce the tax? If that is not on the cards, then can we have a plan as to where this significant slice of the motorist’s pay-packet is now being spent or planning to be spent? “

If a tax can be increased it can be decreased.

“All motorists are watching every dollar they spend and with a major economic slowdown looming, returning this into the economy would be a welcome relief for each family’s budget,” notes Bodger.

He continues “If the motorist has the opportunity to spend or save this money, people with better abilities than me and access to data could probably estimate how many jobs this type of stimulus boost may create. In our view Kiwis need every piece of help available right now. Can a change in this tax, that appears to be in the main not needed right now, be part of economic support packages? “

Fuel taxes are inflationary. They hit all goods and every service with a transport component, chief of which is food, and they hit the poorest hardest.

If a private business took money from a customer for a particular purpose and used it for another it would be guilty of misappropriation.

If the government continues to inflict the fuel tax for public transport when it’s major project has been canned it will be misappropriating money that every individual and business hit by the recession needs for their own purposed and to help with the recovery.


Taxing times

May 19, 2020

This is a very taxing time which is not the right time to increase tax:

National is calling on the Government to defer the 4c hike to petrol excise duty and road user charges scheduled for July 1 while its light rail project is on hold, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.

“Given the unprecedented economic pain this country is feeling because of Covid-19, the Government should give motorists a break rather than hitting them in the back pocket.

“The Government introduced three years of annual tax increases to pay for its beleaguered Auckland light rail pet project that has gone absolutely nowhere since Jacinda Ardern promised it on the 2017 campaign trail.

“Now that the Government has confirmed light rail is on hold while the Government deals with Covid-19, the tax grab scheduled for July 1 shouldn’t happen either.

We have been paying the extra tax for three years in which there has been no progress at all on the light rail project which was used as the reason for the extra tax..

“Kiwi motorists have already suffered enough under this Government. The tax hikes it has passed into law amount to a $1.7 billion tax grab, with Aucklanders the hardest hit because of their regional fuel tax.

“If the Government does not defer the July 1 petrol tax increase then it will be a clear signal that Labour’s plan to repay the massive debt it’s taking on is more tax.

“New Zealanders need to keep more of what they earn to cushion the blow of Covid-19. A National Government will repeal the Auckland Regional Fuel Tax and won’t increase fuel taxes in our first term.”

I filled my car with petrol on March 25th, a few hours before the lockdown was imposed. I didn’t have to fill it again until last Thursday and wondered as I did how big a hit the government had taken from less fuel used and therefore less fuel tax and GST.

Given the amount of tax levied on each litre it would have been significant.

The government will also be anticipating a lot less company tax and the most optimistic of forecasts are for big increases in unemployment which will result in less PAYE coming in and more benefit payments going out.

None of that is an excuse for another increase in fuel tax.

Almost all goods and services have a fuel cost component so an increase in fuel tax is an increase in production costs for just about everything. That is the last thing any business needs when so many are faced with the need to retrench at best.

An increase in fuel tax is also not what people need with recession a certainty and depression a probability.

It’s definitely not what the poor who will be hit hardest need.

Last week’s Budget had to feature a lot of borrowing but not nearly as much as it did.

It didn’t have a plan for helping the country out of the economic damage wrought by the lockdown and the government has given absolutely no indication it plans to be going through every single cent it spends to weed out the nice-to-haves nor does it appear to be asking any of its departments or ministries to make savings.

The alternative to that is more tax, a lot more tax.

The increase in fuel tax will just be the start.

 

 


Mixed messages

February 28, 2020

The government is introducing a bill it says could lead to a drop of up to 30 cents a litre in petrol prices.

But, as the Taxpayers’ Union keeps reminding us, around half the contributor to fuel prices is tax, including the one that is supposed to make us use less to reduce carbon emissions.

They’re sending mixed messages.

They’re talking out one side of their mouths by taxing us more to increase the price of fuel to encourage us to use less and then the talk from the other side is a threat to legislate to force  fuel companies to bring prices down because fuel is too expensive.


Rural round-up

January 19, 2020

Avocado trees killed in Far North orchard :

An avocado orchard in the Far North has been vandalised – alongside the words “water thieves” – in an apparent protest against water usage in the parched region.

Windbreaks have been slashed and graffitied, water pipes have been cut and about 20 trees have been killed over the Christmas period at Mapua Orchard, near Houhora.

Orchard manager Ian Broadhurst said it wasn’t the first time this had happened, but it was definitely the worst.

He said Mapua was part of a wider group of 17 orchards in the region that had applied to the Northland Regional Council for consents to draw water from the Aupōuri aquifer. . . 

Federated Farmers: Mycoplasma Boris tax hit unfair:

Federated Farmers is seeking Ministerial support for a change to tax legislation so farmers whose breeding stock are culled as part of the Mycoplasma bovis eradication effort are not disadvantaged by the tax regime.

“Currently farmers whose dairy or beef breeding cows are valued on their books under the National Standard Cost scheme and whose cattle are culled as part of the Mycoplasma bovis response will most likely end up with a hefty tax bill. This is not a fair outcome for affected farmers and we believe it’s an unintended consequence of the tax legislation,” Federated Farmers economics spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says. . .

All work and no play for southern food producers – Jacqui Dean:

For most of us, the first days of the New Year are spent resting, reflecting and rueing the excesses of the Christmas period.

The ham on the bone is being whittled away, the recycling bin is housing a few too many empty bottles and we’re all hoping that someone else will take the initiative and tidy away the Christmas decorations for another year.

But for a great many people, the early weeks of January are all about work.

With Central Otago accounting for nearly 60 per cent of planted summer fruit orchards in New Zealand, it’s fair to say that all eyes are on this neck of the woods as the country hankers after its fresh produce. . . 

Native trees supply looks tight – Richard Rennie:

The nation’s Billion Trees target by 2028 might be missed by a quarter because of a lack of capacity and resources to meet it.

The goal includes having 200 million native trees planted by 2028. 

However, a survey commissioned by the Forests Ministry survey indicates only 160m native seedlings can be supplied by then. 

That is based on a sustainable growth rate of 7.5% a year for a sector that has had 12-15% growth for the past three years but that has been described unsustainable over any length of time. . . 

‘Unusable’ plastic sitting at Smart Environmental has future in fence posts

Change is on the way for the classic Kiwi fencepost, with a new venture making them out of recycled plastic.

Future Post has joined forces with Smart Environmental’s Kopu site, collecting bales of recycling which will then be turned into fence posts.

The Smart Environmental plant services Thames-Coromandel, Hauraki, Matamata-Piako and Waipā, and Future Post is expecting to save around 15 tonnes of plastic a month.

“It means there’s a reasonable percentage of plastic now being reused; however, there’s still a hell of a lot that is unusable and still has no market,” Smart Environmental’s Waikato and BOP regional manager Layne Sefton said. . . 

Food made from ‘bacterial dust’ is ‘ludicrous’, beef group says :

British beef producers have called a proposal to feed the population with synthetic lab food made from bacteria as ‘ludicrous’.

George Monbiot claimed in the recent documentary ‘Apocalypse Cow’ that conventional farming will end in 50 years time.

Instead of food produced from farms, the human diet will eventually rely on synthetic food made in laboratories, the environmental activist claimed in the show.

Monbiot visited a team of researchers in Finland who unveiled their process for food production – made out of bacteria and water. . .


Higher wages fewer jobs

January 15, 2020

The  increase in the minimum wage costs jobs:

Confirmation that the Government’s unbalanced minimum wage rise could cost 17,000 jobs and lump taxpayers with a $125 million bill is an alarm bell for small businesses, National’s Workplace Relations and Safety spokesperson Todd McClay says.

MBIE’s recently-released Minimum Wage Review 2019 reveals the Labour-led Government’s proposed change to $18.90 per hour on April 1 will cost the economy 6500 jobs and increase Government expenses by $62m a year, as well as drive up inflation.

Moving to a $20 an hour minimum wage by 2021, which the Government is proposing, could cost the economy 17,000 jobs and increase expenses by $125m a year.

“The minimum wage changes will see small businesses struggle more at a time when the Government should be supporting them, not working against them,” Mr McClay says.

“The Government is making it harder for small businesses to employ people, harder for them to invest in training and development, and harder for them to get ahead.

“These projections could prove to be much larger if our economy continues to slow and the labour market weakens, as it has already under the Labour-led Government.

“Everyone wants high wages for workers, which is why National increased the minimum wage every year in Government. But we believe the minimum wage should go up in a balanced way that doesn’t go too far, too fast.

Employers expect modest increases in the minimum wage but this government’s fast-tracking bigger increases is too much too quickly, at too high a cost.

“Hard-working Kiwis are already doing it tough because of the Labour-led Government’s poor policies, which are driving up the price of petrol, rent and other living costs.

“The best way to put more money in workers’ pockets is to let them keep more of what they earn. What good is raising the minimum wage if workers are being taxed to the eyeballs?”

Would tax cuts be better than increasing the minimum wage?

An orchard owner in Central Otago is rallying against minimum wage increases, arguing reducing the income tax of a portion of low-wage earners would help them more and do less harm to small businesses.

But a tax expert says it makes more sense to give low-wage earners more social support than to ‘‘tinker’’ with the tax system. . .

The business owner said she did not want to be named out of concern people might react angrily to her view the minimum wage should not be increased.

‘‘I’m all for people getting more money in their pocket.

‘‘The Government needs to look at how they can ensure lower-paid people get more in their wage packet, without damaging especially smaller companies.

‘‘What is the point of more money in a pay packet if the result of that is that it is going to cost jobs, and it gets swallowed up by higher prices for the basics, like fuel and electricity and rents and groceries?’’

Wage rises are a cost to business . If they’re not at least matched by a gain in profit businesses have to increase prices to compensate. That feeds into the economy and soon eats into any increase in pay. If people are paid more but have to pay more for goods and services they’re no better off, and if there are fewer jobs those who lose, or can’t get, a job are worse off.

She said she had a better idea of how to get more money to low-wage earners.

‘‘If they’re going to up wages all the time why don’t they bring the PAYE [rate] down?

‘‘Lower-paid people can have an immediate solid increase in their take-home packet.’’

If you follow the principle of less tax on things we want to encourage and more on things we don’t, tax cuts on wages is good. The trouble is most lower to middle income people pay little or no net tax.

Tax specialist and managing partner at Findex in Dunedin Scott Mason said he had a lot of sympathy for business owners struggling with the increasing cost of wages.

He agreed with the orchard owner the increase in minimum wages could lead to employers not hiring new staff.

‘‘They’ll defer taking an employee on for a longer period of time. Which then has a counterintuitive impact on the economy, accepting of course we’ve got pretty full employment at the moment.

But reducing the income tax low-wage earners paid was ‘‘tinkering with our overall tax settings’’.

‘‘The reality is those on minimum wage — when you take into account their tax rate and their social benefits — aren’t generally net taxpayers anyway.

‘‘We’re basically using the tax system, the people who are net taxpayers, to subsidise [low-wage earners] further.

‘‘It may or may not be right — it’s just a much wider debate is the point I’m making.’’

He said it would be a better idea to increase social welfare to help those more in need.

‘‘If you were going to use the tax system to do it, you’d be better off tinkering with the likes of Working for Families or those sorts of things rather than changing tax rates.

‘‘If you change the tax rate then it affects all taxpayers.’’

If you increase WFF it affects all taxpayers too because that’s who pays for it.

What we need is increased productivity and profits and a reduction in business taxes could help that.

That in turn could lead to sustainable growth in the economy which would, in time, lead to sustainable increases in wages.

That would be much better than wage increases by government decree which have nothing to do with the value of the work employees do, nothing to do with a businesses ability to pay that additional cost and a lot to do with job losses.

 

 

 

 

 


Mixed messages

December 6, 2019

The government is sending mixed messages on fuel prices.

It’s imposed a carbon tax as part of its climate change strategy while it’s also criticising fuel companies for charging too much.

In doing the latter they are conveniently ignoring the fact that nearly half of the cost of fuel at the pumps is tax.


Fact check on tax

October 24, 2019

Some people think the tax rate and the tax take are linked so if the rate increases or decreases the take follows.

That isn’t always the case.

A cut in tax rates can lead to less effort put into avoidance so productivity improves, a cut can also lead to more spending and both feed into a higher tax take.

Some people think more is better when it comes to taking tax and spending it.

That isn’t always the case either.

The quality of the spend is often, maybe always, more important than the quantity.

Some people are confused about the relationship between tax and services. For example, Associate Health Minister Julie Ann Genter says tax cuts would come at the expense of the fight against measles.

Is she right?


Too much of a good thing

October 9, 2019

The government has posted a $7.5 billion surplus:

The Government has unveiled a bumper $7.5 billion surplus and the lowest debt levels in almost a decade, the latest Crown accounts reveal.

That level of Government surplus has not been seen since at least 2008, just before New Zealand felt the full effect of the global financial crisis. . . 

It’s taking all that money yet failing to deliver on its promises.

Surpluses are good, but $7.5 billion looks like too much of a good thing.

The government is either taking too much, spending too little, or both.

National’s Economic Development spokesman Todd McLay says:

“The Government should be looking to stimulate the economy by letting New Zealanders keep more of what they earn.

“Instead, it has piled on more and more taxes to the point where Grant Robertson is sitting on a big surplus while those living outside Wellington’s beltway struggle with rising living costs.

“One of the reasons debt is lower than forecast is because the Government is failing to invest in the infrastructure New Zealand needs.

“It has cancelled or delayed a dozen major new roading projects right across the country and replaced them with projects that weren’t ready, and won’t be ready for some time yet.

This isn’t just taking more tax and doing less with it. Stalling new roading work risks a loss of skilled people who will head overseas if there’s a gap between current projects finishing and new ones starting.

“Meanwhile, the Government has been piling on taxes. It has legislated to milk an extra $1.7 billion from motorists through fuel tax hikes and extra GST, while its misguided housing policies have pushed up rents and burdened landlords with extra costs and regulation.

“National legislated for tax relief that would have put more than $1000 a year extra into the back pockets of New Zealanders. This Government cancelled that. 

“We will index tax thresholds to inflation so that New Zealanders aren’t taxed more by stealth every year because of the rising cost of living.”

Sound economic management requires much more than creating surpluses.

The government must take enough, but not too much, and it must scrutinise all its decisions to ensure its spending effectively and prudently.

The large surplus suggests the government could be investing more in infrastructure and filling some of the gaping holes in the health system.

It also shows it is taking far more than it needs and it could be leaving us all with a little more of our own money by way of tax cuts.


Cost of higher fuel tax

July 2, 2019

An extra four cent tax was imposed on motorists yesterday.

The direct cost is obvious – it will be more expensive to buy fuel.

The indirect costs won’t take long to take effect – higher prices for everything that has a transport component.

That will hit individuals, community organisations and businesses.

And for what?

. . .Half-way into the “year of delivery,” and all we’re seeing is key projects delayed, down-sized or discarded. The public are seeing noticeable asset deterioration at a rate we haven’t seen previously. It’s across New Zealand, Forum members advise, not just Auckland. . . 

Where’s the money gone? What exactly has it been spent on? Auckland transport users certainly aren’t seeing the benefits.

The rest of New Zealand isn’t seeing any benefits either.

We’re paying higher prices for fuel and getting less spent on roads.


Time to target tourists?

June 17, 2019

Cataclysmic headlines tell us we’re facing a climate crisis.

Councils are declaring climate emergencies.

People are marching demanding action to reverse climate change.

But how many are actually doing anything that will make a real and sustainable difference?

In spite of what it’s trying to tell us our government isn’t.

Its carbon zero bill is largely political and bureaucratic posturing that ignores the science.

If it was really serious about doing something that made a real difference it would stop trying to reduce farm production here which will only increase emissions as other less efficient producers increased their production to fill the gap.

Instead it would target tourists, taxing travel for any but essential reasons.

Farming produces food which people need for survival.

The benefits from tourism are purely personal.

Tourist taxes high enough to compensate for the emissions from travel aren’t being imposed and haven’t been suggested as a serious solution.

Does this mean that the government hasn’t got the courage of its climate change convictions, has got another plan it has yet to tell us, or doesn’t really believe there’s a crisis?


Tax Freedom Day at last

June 1, 2019

We’re nearly half way through the year and have only just got to Tax Freedom Day:

A media release from the Taxpayers’ Union says:

From today until the end of the year you are finally working for yourself, and not the taxman, says the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union.
 
‘Tax Freedom Day’ marks the day on which New Zealanders have collectively worked enough to pay off the cost of government for the year.
 
Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says, “For the average New Zealander, getting to work on Monday represents the first day they’re working for themselves.”
 
“This year’s total government expenses have been forecast to suck up 41.5 percent of the economy. That means, if a taxpayer wanted pay off their share of government expenses as soon as possible this year, they would have to work sacrifice all their wages from January the 1st, until today, June 1st.
 
“Today is worth celebrating, but it’s a shame we had to wait so long to pay off the politicians’ expense card. Unfortunately, government spending increasing faster than economic growth means the continuation of the trend of a later Tax Freedom Day.”
 
“Some other groups chose to observe Tax Freedom Day earlier this year. But our chosen date – based on OECD figures – takes into account local government and spending paid for with debt, meaning it reflects the full burden of government on taxpayers.”

And on the eve of Tax Freedom Day, the government pushed through an increase to fuel taxes under urgency:

The Taxpayers’ Union is slamming the passage of legislation hiking the price of petrol at the pump to see that more than 50 percent of the price paid will soon be tax. Union spokesperson, Jordan Williams says:

“Clearly ‘wellbeing’ is just marketing fluff.  Petrol taxes are highly regressive – they hit the poor, those in regional New Zealand, and those who live on outer suburbs the hardest. It’s one of the cruelest forms of tax.”

“Rushing these new petrol taxes through Parliament under urgency is disgraceful. They are a total breach of the Prime Minister’s ‘no new tax’ election promise.  And Labour know it.”

“Pain at the pump underscores the fact that big-ticket Budget announcements come at a real cost, regardless of the fuzzy wellbeing language the politicians use to promote them.”

Petrol was more than $2.45 a litre when we passed through Omarama earlier this week. Tax is already too big a contributor to that.

Taking more money from everyone and adding to the cost of everything will not contribute to wellbeing.


Rural round-up

May 1, 2019

Gas tax won’t cut farming emissions – Neal Wallace:

A capital gains tax is off the agenda but farming leaders are warning the imposition a suite of new taxes and regulations is pending.

In addition to farmers paying a greenhouse gas emissions tax of $50 million a year the Government is expected to impose tougher regulations on freshwater quality, aerial cropping, winter grazing and feedlots.

“When you look at everything else coming down the pipeline, if I was asked to pick one we were prepared to lose it would be this one, the one we have won,” Federated Farmers vice-president Andrew Hoggard said of the capital gains tax.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also ruled out water and fertiliser taxes as suggested by the Tax Working Group. . .

Top dairy title revealed tonight – Yvonne O’Hara:

Dairy farmer Emma Hammond, of East Limehills, felt honoured when she was nominated for this year’s prestigious Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year award.

The only South Island-based finalist, she and the other three women will hear if they are winners during a dinner this evening at the Allflex Dairy Women’s Network’s conference in Christchurch.

”For us to be recognised for what we do and get that acknowledgement is humbling,” Mrs Hammond said. . .

Farm management whizz ‘well on track‘ – Sally Rae:

At 19, James Matheson set a goal of having $1 million equity by the time he was 30.

Now 26, the Gore farm manager is ”well on track” to achieve that, sitting at between $700,000 and $800,000.

It has been a meteoric rise for a young man who had never previously considered a career in the dairy industry.

Now he and farm owner Chris Lawlor were endeavouring to help other young people follow a similar path through an innovative initiative. . . 

Highlife on top of the world – Andrew Stewart:

Setting up a tourism venture on a farm not only provides a second income but also acts as a public relations exercise to help bridge the rural-urban divide. And when it includes luxury glamping and breathtaking views the visitors cannot fail to be impressed. Andrew Stewart took a look.

In terms of spectacular views, Angus and Sarah Gilbertson’s farm is up there with the best. 

Rising to 600 metres above sea level at the highest point, the panorama on a clear day encompasses all the mountain peaks of the central plateau, Mount Taranaki to the west and the clear blue waters of the Tasman Sea far to the south. 

Between these stunning landmarks are great swathes of some of the most productive farming country in New Zealand that connect the landscape in various shades of green. It’s the sort of view you can’t help but stop and enjoy and this is part of the reason the Gilbertsons created their glamping business five years ago. . . 

The 10 biggest stories in farming over the past 25 years – Jamie Mackay:

My final chat on Newstalk ZB with the laconic Larry Williams was a great excuse to take a trip down memory lane.

Larry was stepping down after 27 years at the drive helm on ZB, while I was blowing out the candles on an accidental radio career spanning a quarter century in rural broadcasting.

For our penultimate ZB cross the week earlier I’d turned the tables on Larry and, without warning, asked him some unscripted questions. Much like his metronomic golf swing, he’s sometimes hard to get off script, but on this occasion he took up the challenge with good humour. . . 

Hunt on for ‘M.bovis’ study project manager – Sally Rae:

The search for an assistant research fellow to project manage a study on the impacts of Mycoplasma bovis on farmers and their communities has attracted a high level of interest.

In January, it was announced the University of Otago would undertake a study on the emotional, social and psychological impacts of the bacterial cattle disease on southern farmers and farming communities.

The two-year study, due to start this month, will look at the impact of the eradication programme on farmers specifically and the wider community more generally. . . 

Medicinal cannabis firm Pure Cann New Zealand gets $6 million investment– Rebecca Howard:

Pure Cann New Zealand, which counts former Air New Zealand boss Rob Fyfe as its executive chair, has secured $6 million from Australia’s Cann Group for a 20 per cent stake in the local medicinal cannabis company.

The investment will be made over stages with the initial 10 per cent to be completed on or before August 30 and a further 10 per cent when New Zealand regulations come into force and Pure Cann’s board approves the construction of its commercial cultivation facility.

The New Zealand government anticipates introducing new regulations, licensing requirements and quality standards governing medicinal cannabis usage by the end of this calendar year. . . 

 


No CGT but . . .

April 18, 2019

The government is not going to adopt a capital gains tax .

The backdown has cost $2 million and 18 months of uncertainty but Simon Bridges point out there will be more taxes:

“While the Government has backed down on a Capital Gains Tax, there are still a range of taxes on the table. They include a vacant land tax, an agricultural tax and a waste tax.

“Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she personally still wants a Capital Gains Tax and that our tax system is unfair. New Zealanders simply can’t trust Labour when it comes to tax. 

“The New Zealand economy has suffered while the Government has had a public discussion about a policy they couldn’t agree on. Put simply, this is political and economic mismanagement. . . 

The government asked a question, the answer to which its three constituent parties couldn’t agree on.

Remember James Shaw saying:

“The last question we should be asking ourselves is, ‘can we be re-elected if we do this?’ The only question we should be asking ourselves is, ‘do we deserve to be re-elected if we don’t?'”

Labour and the Green Party had to swallow a big dead rat, served to them by Winston Peters:

. . .It wasn’t even an hour after the Prime Minister had put the final nail in the coffin that is the capital gains tax (CGT) when RNZ asked Mr Peters whether Labour will be expecting his party’s support on another issue in return for losing this flagship policy. Mr Peters fired back: “May I remind you, the Labour Party is in government because of my party.”

No reading between the lines necessary. . .

New Zealand First is polling under the 5% threshold, it couldn’t afford to alienate the dwindling number of its supporters.

The capital gains tax, if not dead, is buried while Ardern is Prime Minister, but the threat of other niche taxes is still live.

 


$5b extra cost with CGT

April 7, 2019

BusinessNZ has worked out the proposed capital gains tax would impose an extra $5 billion on the economy :

BusinessNZ has released an analysis of additional costs to the economy that would accompany the direct costs of New Zealand’s proposed capital gains tax.

It shows compliance costs of $1.6 billion, administrative costs of $210 million and deadweight costs of $1.5 – $4.2 billion, over five years.-

BusinessNZ Chief Executive Kirk Hope said the Tax Working Group’s report did not include compliance, administrative or deadweight costs, and these needed to be made explicit to enable public debate about costs before the Government made its decision on a capital gains tax.

Goodness me, how surprising.  The people proposing a tax based on an ideological view of fairness didn’t include the costs.

Compliance costs include Valuation Day requirements for all business assets to gain a valuation to enable the imposition of the capital gains tax.

Administrative costs are IRD’s costs of collecting the tax.

Deadweight costs are the costs of reduced economic output resulting from changes in supply and demand caused by the imposition of a tax. . . 

Those who want the tax keep repeating the same theoretical argument about fairness.

Those opposing it keep finding real, practical reasons why it isn’t fair, will add costs and sabotage the economy.

There’s more on this at BusinessNZ


CGT based on dodgy stats

April 5, 2019

Assertions about the impact of the proposed capital gains tax are based on dodgy numbers.

Troy Bowker writes:

The Tax Working Group (TWG) used an unreliable survey by the Department of Statistics as the basis for its argument that the majority of the proposed capital gains tax (CGT) will be paid by the top 20 per cent of households measured by wealth.

Repeatedly, since the final report was published, Sir Michael Cullen has quoted the “statistic” to the media that 82 per cent of the assets that will be subject to CGT are owned by the top 20 per cent of New Zealand households measured by net worth.

He goes on to state (as factual) the second 20 per cent of wealthy households will be responsible for another 11 per cent , then only 4 per cent for “middle” New Zealand.

In reality, this information is based on what most reasonable people would describe as little more than guess work.

It has been used for political purposes to argue that the majority of the public have nothing to worry about, and it will be mostly the “rich” that will pay CGT.

If it is correct (which it isn’t), it’s a very good argument for Labour and the Greens who desperately want to see a comprehensive CGT implemented.

The problem for those wanting CGT is that the data is completely unreliable and should never have been used. We need to know why public officials used it in the first place when they knew, or ought to have known, it was dodgy statistics. . . 

The stats came from the annual Household Economic Survey (HES) carried out by Statistics NZ.

It was done by conducting interviews of 8000 households, out of approximately 1.7 million households, in New Zealand. That’s only 0.47 per cent of households — s a ridiculously low sample size.

The other reason it is unreliable is most of the information provided is unverifiable. The Department of Statistics asks all sorts of questions about the assets and liabilities of each household and records the answers given. People can guess, underestimate or overestimate or not even volunteer information.

As you can imagine, it’s an extremely invasive and intrusive process that attempts to delve into the most personal financial information of New Zealand homes.

By the Department of Statistics own admission, it contains data that is so unreliable they cautioned against its use. . . 

In spite of the caution Treasury used them in its report to the TWG.

It beggars belief that Treasury decided to use this information in its report to the TWG.

Senior Treasury officials who wrote this report to the TWG obviously knew the information couldn’t be safely relied upon.

Hidden in the fine print of the Treasury report, it states “care should be taken when interpreting wealth estimates because the confidence intervals around any point estimates vary widely”.

In layman’s terms, this is like Treasury saying to the TWG: “You probably shouldn’t be using this information as we really don’t know if it’s accurate and some of it’s completely unreliable.”

This raises some very serious questions about the probity of the process that need answering by Finance Minister Grant Robertson, and the TWG chair Michael Cullen (who is still on the Government pay roll). Hopefully he’s still being paid to answer the question of why the TWG used this data.

Did the TWG specifically request Treasury to dig up statistics to support the political argument that only the top households would pay CGT? Did the TWG know the data they were using was largely unreliable? Treasury obviously had concerns about using it and told the TWG in its report. So why did the TWG use that data? Does the Finance Minister now accept this data is unreliable and shouldn’t have been used for political purposes to justify Labour’s proposed CGT?

These are very serious questions that need to be answered and answered publicly.

The reality is, we don’t have enough reliable information to draw any conclusions at all about which households will pay the most from the proposed CGT.

We do know, however, that there are hundreds of thousands of farmers, business owners, lifestyle block owners, bach owners and sharemarket investors who will pay a lot more tax if Labour are successful in implementing CGT.

There are an awful lot of hardworking ordinary Kiwis who don’t consider themselves wealthy who will pay CGT if Labour are successful in convincing Winston Peters to support it.

For Labour to use these dodgy statistics to mislead the public would be to underestimate the intelligence of the voting public of New Zealand.

The CGT debate has a long way to go. But Labour need to come clean and be honest about the many hundreds of thousands of middle income Kiwis who will pay CGT. They also need to answer some serious questions about how, and why, the HES was used to support the main argument on fairness by the TWG.

This proposal is the most significant tax reform in many years in New Zealand and we deserve better than public officials using dubious and unreliable data to support a preconceived political agenda.

Significant tax reform should not be based on dodgy stats for both ethical and practical reasons.

Ethical because it’s wrong to base assertions on wrong numbers, and practical because if the stats are dodgy there can be no certainty about the outcomes.

It’s not just who would pay how much that matters, but how much tax a CGT would raise.

If the stats on which the assertions of who would pay what are dodgy the conclusions on how much that would raise are also completely unreliable.

The TGW was told any proposals must be revenue neutral – that is, the amount raised by any new tax would be offset by cuts to old ones.

There can be absolutely no certainty about how much it would raise and therefore how much other taxes could be lowered if the whole proposal is based on numbers based on guesswork.

Almost all those favouring a CGT do so based on an ideological and political idea about fairness. 

There is nothing fair about assertions based on dodgy numbers and a tax full of loopholes that would disincentivise investment and sabotage the economy.

 


CGT will hit everyone

April 4, 2019

The Taxpayer’s Union has launched a campaign to axe the capital gains tax (CGT) :

New Zealand’s tax system is admired around the world for its simplicity, affordability, and fairness. The capital gains tax proposed by Sir Michael Cullen’s Tax Working Group would put all of this at risk.

It is bureaucratic, costly, and would be the harshest in the world. It will curtail entrepreneurship and investment, meaning a reduction in all New Zealanders’ economic prosperity.

The rate is one of the world’s highest, it would be unfairly levied on inflation, it would require costly and fraught asset valuation, and in many cases it would break the Government’s promises by targeting the family home.

New Zealanders deserve better than this unfair tax.

    • It unfairly taxes people with assets for inflation
    • It will unfairly tax 350,000 home owners who live on a lifestyle block even if they only have one home
    • It will unfairly impose billions of dollars of compliance costs on 500,000 small businesses
    • It will unfairly tax farmers who sell a farm in order to buy another farm
    • It will unfairly lead to higher rents for over a million tenants
    • It is an unfair double tax on 500,000 business owners who already pay company tax
    • It will unfairly benefit tax lawyers and accountants who can exploit American-style loopholes
    • It will unfairly advantage foreign owners of New Zealand shares and disadvantage 800,000 New Zealand investing in local companies

Who will be affected by the CGT?:

Anyone who owns a business, including a farm, shares, bach/crib/holiday home, lifestyle block bigger than .45 hectares,  or rental property; anyone who claims expenses for a home office; has intellectual property, anyone who owns a home and moves into a rest home without being able to sell it within a year, or buys another and can’t sell the first within a year, or goes overseas for a while; anyone who buys a section for a new home that isn’t completed within a year;  any homeowner who forms a relationship with another homeowner;  and anyone who has taxable assets and migrates.

A lot of people would be hit by the tax directly but everyone will be hit indirectly when costs go up and the economy slows.

Even Inland Revenue advised against it:

Tax officials advised the Government 15 months ago that our small companies, start-ups and innovators were better off without a Capital Gains Tax, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.

“Even before Sir Michael Cullen and others were named to the Tax Working Group in December 2017, Inland Revenue officials told the Government that the absence of a Capital Gains Tax in New Zealand was ‘potentially advantageous to start-ups’.

“Not having a Capital Gains Tax is ‘advantageous’ to every Kiwi willing to give it a go by starting a small business and creating jobs. People who take risks with smart ideas and build something bigger than themselves shouldn’t be discouraged.

“Governments should encourage innovators because smart people will take us to a better future. We need people who take risks and stretch themselves because the ones who succeed create more jobs.

“The Government was also told that the lack of a Capital Gains Tax ‘indirectly incentivises’ people to put more of their own money into a venture because they have the chance of a better return when they sell. That could be somebody who wants to stop working, sell the business and retire. . . “

That’s another consequence that would hit a l9ot of people – disincentive to invest and carry out succession as aging farm and other business owners hang on instead of selling.

The economy is slowing.

If it’s going to reverse that the government must take a much more frugal approach to its own spending and axe the CGT.


Politics changed, facts haven’t

March 28, 2019

Sir Michael Cullen is being paid $1000 to sell the capital gains tax.

It’s a task made more difficult by records of his views on a CGT  which the parliamentary library holds from his time as an MP:

Stuff reported that although the chairman of the Tax Working Group once called a capital gains tax “extreme, socially unacceptable and economically unnecessary”, he has since changed his mind.

New documents compiled by the Parliamentary Library for the ACT party reveal just how far he shifted since leaving Government in 2008.

The 84 pages of research included every reference Cullen ever made in the House in reference to a CGT between 1987 and 2008. . . 

They include:

. . . “I think it is extremely hard to make that connection between a capital gains tax and the affordability of housing, insofar as there has never been a theoretical argument put forward about a capital gains tax on housing. It is more in the direction of a level playing field around investment; it is not around the notion that it will make houses cheaper. Indeed, it is very hard to see how it would necessarily make houses cheaper,” Cullen said at the time.

On June 20, 2007, when Bill English asked Cullen about explicitly ruling out a capital gains tax, he responded saying: “One of the problems with a capital gains tax – apart from the fact that if it were done, it should apply to all asset classes—is that countries overseas that have capital gains taxes have significant inflation in house prices on occasion”.

Then on June 21, 2007, he was asked about the possibility of combining ring-fencing with a capital gains tax on all investments except the family home, and more Government investment in low-cost rental housing.

He responded saying: “I think it is fair to say that, if one was looking at a capital gains tax, which I am certainly not, it would apply to all asset classes. I think the arguments in favour of such a tax, which probably 20 years ago were quite strong, become much, much less strong in the intervening period of time, for a whole host of reasons. So I think that that is actually not a very worthwhile avenue to explore, not least because it comes, in effect, at the end of a process, rather than trying to address the over-investment at the start of the process”. . . 

He says he was Finance Minister at the time and following the government line.

When asked why he changed his mind, he quoted John Maynard Keynes: “When the facts change, I change my mind”.

What facts have changed? It wasn’t a good idea then and it still isn’t, for the same reasons.

As Robin Oliver, former deputy head of Inland Revenue, former Treasury advisor, an expert on the tax system, and one of three dissenters on the Tax Working Group said:

There’s a strong argument for taxing capital gains, as you put it, in theory, the problem is the practicality and of making it work. . .

Kathryn Ryan asked him if, all things being equal and as a tax expert would it be good to do it and her replied:

In the actuality of what you have to do to get such a tax in place, no.

Most of the arguments in favour of a CGT are theoretical ones based on a notion of fairness, whatever that is.

Most of the arguments against it are practical based on facts including that it has done nothing to rein in house prices elsewhere and has led to overinvestment in housing, underinvestment in business, and acts as a handbrake on succession.

The politics have changed but the facts haven’t.

A CGT with exceptions as recommended by the TWG would be expensive to administer, contain loopholes which would only provide work for lawyers and accountants, promote over-investment in housing, stifle investment in productive assets, and result in lower tax revenue in tough times when capital gains fall.


Govt can’t cope with CGT oppositon

March 8, 2019

The normal course of events for government working groups is to do the work, submit a report and leave what happens next to the politicians.

That this government feels the need to keep the chair of the Tax Working Group, Sir Michael Cullen, on at  $1000 a day to explain and defend the group’s recommendations is a sign the politicians don’t think they’re up to explaining and defending it themselves.

Paying a working group chair $1000 a day might be the going rate while he’s actually chairing for a day but continuing to pay him that to lobby is outrageous:

The Tax Working Group process has become blatantly politicised with the Government’s decision to pay Sir Michael Cullen to continue lobbying for a capital gains tax, says the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union.

Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says, “The advertised purpose of the Tax Working Group was to deliver an expert-driven appraisal of the tax system along with a series of recommendations. That advice has now been received, but Sir Michael is still being paid over $1000 a day to argue for higher taxes. Funding for expert advice is one thing, but taxpayer-funded public campaigning is outrageous.”

“If the National Party set up a Steven Joyce led Working Group and paid Mr Joyce to get on radio and attack the Labour Party and advocate for lower taxes, the political left would rightly get up in arms. It’s the same principle here: expert advice should not be politicised at taxpayers’ expense.”

“Grassroots organisations like the Taxpayers’ Union campaign using voluntary donations. Proponents of the capital gains tax should try to do the same.” . . 

Paying Cullen is in effect a government vote of no-confidence in themselves and their ability.

Government MPs have had remarkable little to say on the TWG’s report, with the exception of James Shaw who asked if the government deserved to be re-elected if it didn’t introduce a capital gains tax (CGT).

That it needs to hire the group’s chair to speak for it, shows it doesn’t deserve to be re-elected anyway.


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