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.

 


Union funded CGT campaign ‘astrotruf’

April 9, 2019

A union-backed lobby group is campaigning for a capital gains tax:

Tax Justice Aotearoa, a coalition of community and union groups, has spent $15,000 on ads in major newspapers, billboards and buses.

At its launch at Parliament today, about 15 members of Tax Justice Aotearoa gathered holding signs saying: “Fairness is the Kiwi way, it’s time for a capital gains tax.”

It’s also calling for tax cuts for low to middle income-earners and hikes for the highest paid.

Spokesperson Paul Barber responded to questions from the Taxpayers Union about the source of the money used to pay for it.

“We’ve funded the campaign by chipping together our various skills and resources, and we’ve had a bit of support around communications work and that’s all we’ve got at this stage.”

Mr Barber from the Council of Christian Social Services earlier told RNZ the group’s campaign had been largely supported by the Public Health Association.

The association’s a registered charity which is partly funded through a contract with the Health Ministry, but also receives donations from the public. . . 

Registered as a charity, partly funded by the Ministry of Health and spending money on a political campaign? . . .

How can that be?

But Mr Barber said the ads were paid for from donations, and the Public Health Association only contributed by offering communications support.

Services in kind for a political campaign still isn’t right from a publicly funded body.

Jordan Williams from the Taxpayers’ Union says:

“This campaign is not a grassroots movement – it’s more like astroturf. The campaign group is a union-funded front for New Zealand’s usual left-wing agitators. They are funded by the same people who bankroll the Labour Party’s campaigns and even include the Labour Party’s recent General Secretary in their steering committee.”

“The group’s key message – claiming that ‘most’ New Zealanders support a capital gains tax – is false. Public polling consistently shows Kiwis want the Government to axe Dr Cullen’s unfair tax.”

“Despite extensive media coverage of their campaign ‘launch’, the front organisation has attracted just a few hundred signatures on their pro-CGT petition. That will be embarassing for the union cronies when more than 3,000 New Zealanders have used the Taxpayers’ Union’s email tool to tell Jacinda Ardern to axe this tax.”

“If the Government is too afraid to promote Michael Cullen’s unfair tax itself, it should scrap the proposal, instead of palming off the politics to a front group for the Labour Party.”

“Anyone with big-union money can hold a press conference in Wellington and set up a website with American stock images, but until this group can show that typical New Zealanders are engaged in its campaign, it shouldn’t be taken seriously.”

A Reid Research poll confirms a majority are opposed to a CGT::

New Zealanders do not want a capital gains tax (CGT) – not on their investment property, not on their farms or businesses, and definitely not on their KiwiSaver.

Newshub has been given exclusive access to a Reid-Research poll commissioned by Business New Zealand that shows an overwhelming majority of voters – 65 percent – don’t think a CGT should be a priority for the Government.

The poll found that just 22.8 percent think it should be a priority. And nearly half of voters – 47.8 percent – say the CGT debate has harmed the Government, while 33.1 percent say it hasn’t, and 19.2 percent don’t know.

David King, a waterproofing and industrial coating master, spent 26 years building his business Modern Maintenance Products from scratch. And it’s endorsed by Parliament – he just finished fixing up a bunch of MPs’ leaky homes.

But King told Newshub he’s livid about a potential CGT on his business.

“I’m a bit hot under the collar about this. I don’t have a KiwiSaver, I don’t have any other savings – my savings are in this business.”

That’s the case for a lot of small businesses people. They work long hours and pour their profits back into the business leaving little if any for other savings.

Most New Zealanders are also opposed. The Reid-Research poll asked New Zealanders: “Do you think there should be a capital gains tax on things like businesses and farms?”

The majority – 54.3 percent – said “no”, while just 31.6 percent said “yes”.  . . 

On taxing property profits, half of voters pushed back. The poll found 49.8 percent don’t think there should be a CGT on property – the family home would be exempt. 

And that’s versus just 39.1 percent that support it.  . . 

When it comes to KiwiSaver, voters say hands off. The poll found that 90 percent do not think there should be a CGT on KiwiSaver earnings. That leaves just 4.4 percent – next to no one – that support the idea. 

Ninety percent is a very clear majority, even with a margin of error of 3.1%.

Fairness and justice that are motivating supporters of a CGT are abstract concepts but neither would be improved by the proposal put forward by the Tax Working Group with three of its members dissenting.

The proposal would be both unfair and unjust and would do nothing to counter the inequity which concerns its supporters.


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.


Rural round-up

March 28, 2019

Capital Gains Tax: What it means for farmers – Andrea Fox:

Status quo:

Farms are currently not subject to a capital gains tax (CGT) when they sell. However if someone buys a property that is not their home they are taxed on its sale if they keep it less than five years.

Farmers pay GST on all purchases and company tax of 28 per cent. If they use a trust structure, any profit is subject to 33 per cent tax.

What’s proposed:

The Tax Working Group (TWG) has recommended land be subject to a CGT.

The farm’s family home would be exempt but any home site area over 4500sqm would be subject to a CGT. Increases in livestock herd value would be subject to tax.

Environmental taxes on water uptake and discharge, and pollution. . . 

Developing climate change resilient crops ‘a race against time’:

Scientists trying to develop crops more resilient to climate change say they’re increasingly in a race against time.

Breeding plants with more resilient genes – such as, a greater tolerance of saltwater, resilience to drought, or greater yields – has been long touted as a saviour as climate change intensified.

Olivier Panaud, from the University of Perpignan, works mostly with rice crops, but has also been experimenting with crops in tropical areas like the Pacific. . . 

Cottage cheese is the new Greek yoghurt –  Robin Tricoles:

Cottage cheese faced a problem: After World War II, batches of the soft, lumpy dairy concoction developed a propensity to take on a rancid odor and a bitter taste. That changed in 1951, when dairy researchers identified the culprits, three bacterial miscreants that produced this “slimy curd defect.” To prevent the condition, researchers advised cheesemakers to keep these bacteria from entering their manufacturing facilities in the first place. Thus ended the scourge. . . * Hat tip: Inquiring Mind

T&G in apple robot first – Carl Collen:

New Zealand agricultural giant T&G Global has carried out what it has described as a ‘world first’, in using a robotic harvester for a commercial apple harvest.

According to the the fresh produce grower, packer, shipper and marketer, the move marks the culmination of four years of working with US-based technology partner Abundant Robotics, which T&G’s parent company BayWa AG invested in two years ago as part of its strategy to expand digitisation across its agribusiness, and reflects the company’s commitment to innovation-led growth.

T&G global chief operating officer Peter Landon-Lane said the company was delighted to have reached a significant milestone in the evolution of the global apple industry, and for T&G’s home operations in New Zealand to be at the forefront. . . 

First mainstream hemp products in Kiwi supermarkets:

The first mainstream food product containing hemp seed is on supermarket shelves today, launched by one of New Zealand’s leading bread manufacturers, Wairarapa-based Breadcraft under its new brand ‘Rebel Bakehouse’.

Hemp seed was regulated for food use in late 2018, and Rebel Bakehouse’s new hemp seed wraps are the first of a new generation of food that consumers can expect to see made using hemp. Rebel Bakehouse is also introducing cricket protein to Kiwis, with its new cricket flour wrap:

Why transitioning a farm from one generation to the next is trickier than ever – Beth Hoffman:

At the end of December 2005, Margie and Dan First were at the movies when Dan began to feel ill, really ill. His head pounded, then he vomited. A friend recommended they call an ambulance immediately. Dan was rushed to the hospital, where they learned that he had suffered a brain aneurysm.

The events of that day, traumatic as they were, were much more life-changing for the family than anyone in the First clan could have predicted. Like many people, Dan, a 60-year-old Michigan dairy farmer, had never really thought about his own demise. And while his 15-year-old son Josh had dreamed of taking over the family’s farm, the rough plan had been for him to go to college first before deciding if running the dairy was in his cards. Now, suddenly, things were different. . . 


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.


Rural round-up

March 16, 2019

Scholar keen to bridge urban-rural divide – Sally Rae:

Emma Subtil sees the opportunities in the primary industries as “endless”.

And when she completes her masters degree in agribusiness at Lincoln University, she would love a job that helped improve relationships between people living in urban and rural areas.

`If I could get a job in that, I’d be a happy girl,” she said yesterday.

Miss Subtil (21) was recently awarded a $1500 World Congress Charitable Trust Scholarship through New Zealand Young Farmers. . . 

New mountain bike park for Wanaka:

A new mountain bike adventure park is set to open near Wanaka later this year.

The park – called Bike Glendhu – will eventually encompass 50km of awe-inspiring trails at Glendhu Bay, a 13-minute drive from Wanaka’s CBD. Located on one of New Zealand’s most picturesque farms at Glendhu Station, the eco-conscious park is designed for riders of all ages and intends to be a natural and positive shared space for the Wanaka community.

Local resident and keen rider John Wilson has joined forces with Glendhu Station owners John and Emily McRae to create the park, set to open to the public in spring 2019. . . 

CGT valuations would pile on costs, benefit no-one:

Valuing every single business, farm, rental property or family bach to comply with a Capital Gains Tax regime would impose billions of dollars of costs on New Zealanders while benefiting no-one apart from valuers, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.

“The Tax Working Group recommends small businesses, rental properties, family baches and farms be subject to a Capital Gains Tax (CGT) on all gains made after April 2021. As a result, eligible assets without an up to date market value would need a new valuation.

“Valuations don’t come cheap, especially for business owners who want a value robust enough to stand up in court if challenged by the IRD. If every small and medium-sized business owner in New Zealand had to pay for a new valuation at say $10,000 apiece, the cost to the wider economy would be about $5 billion. . . 

Homes wanted for wild horses mustered from Kaimanawa Ranges:

Homes are urgently being sought for 70 wild horses that are being mustered out of the Kaimanawa Ranges next month. 

The Department of Conservation said the animals needed to be removed from the the Waiouru Military Training Area in the Central North Island to keep the herd of wild horses there at a sustainable level of 300.

DOC operations manager Dave Lumley said this allowed for the horses in the herd to maintain best condition and also protects the fragile ecosystems, unique to the Moawhango Ecological Zone. . . 

 

‘Quality issues’ affect avocado growers in difficult season – Charlotte Cook:

Avocado growers profits have taken a hit due to quality issues among 2018’s smaller crop.

New Zealand Avocado chief executive Jen Scoular said wet weather, early maturity and growers not always following best practice were contributors to the difficult season.

Ms Scoular said the main avocado harvest ran from July to February but things had wrapped up a couple of weeks early this year with yields down.

Ms Scoular said 65-70 percent of all avocados grown in New Zealand were exported overseas, about 80 percent of which to Australia. . . 

Gold (and green) rush is underway:

The gold (and green) kiwifruit rush is underway.

The 2019 kiwifruit harvest has officially kicked off with the first of an estimated industry-wide 150 million trays picked and packed in Gisborne.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) Chief Executive Officer Nikki Johnson says Poverty Bay leads the charge because the crop matures more quickly there than the rest of the country. “Over March, orchards in the Bay of Plenty, Northland, Counties-Manukau, Waikato, Hawke’s Bay, the lower North Island and Tasman will follow suit – it’s going to be a bumper crop.” . . 

2019 Waikato Dairy Industry Award winners announced:

The major winners in the 2019 Waikato Dairy Industry Awards are first-time entrants who have wanted to enter the Awards since reading about the national winners in 2012 whilst still living in Wales.

Marc and Nia Jones were announced winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year competition at the Waikato Dairy Industry Awards annual awards dinner held at the Sir Don Rowlands Centre at Karapiro last night. The other big winners were Joe Kehely, who became the 2019 Waikato Dairy Manager of the Year, and Matt Dawson, the 2019 Waikato Dairy Trainee of the Year. . . 

2019 Central Plateau Dairy Industry Award winners announced:

A first-time entrant with a passion for dairy farming, the environment and animals has won the 2019 Central Plateau Share Farmer of the Year.

Tom Bridgens was announced the winner of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year competition at the Central Plateau Dairy Industry Awards annual awards dinner held at the Energy Events Centre in Rotorua last night. The other big winners were Laurence Walden, who was named the 2019 Central Plateau Dairy Manager of the Year, and Harry Phipps, the 2019 Central Plateau Dairy Trainee of the Year.

The 22-year old is Contract Milking 300 cows on Rex and Loris Bates’ Tokoroa 80ha property and won $15,480 in prizes and four merit awards. . . 

2019 Bay of Plenty Dairy Industry Awards winners announced:

The major winners in the 2019 Bay of Plenty Dairy Industry Awards, Matt Barr & Genna Maxwell believe one of the strengths of their business lies in being fourth-generation custodians of a family legacy, with opportunities for diversification.

The couple were announced winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year competition at the Bay of Plenty Dairy Industry Awards annual awards dinner held at the TECT The Action Centre Pongakawa last night. The other big winners were Janamjot Singh Ghuman, who was named the 2019 Bay of Plenty Dairy Manager of the Year, and Alex Sainty, the 2019 Bay of Plenty Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Matt and Genna, are Lease Farmers for Viv Barr, on her 110ha, 410-cow Awakeri property. “Viv is an actively supportive land owner,” they say. . . 

2019 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Industry Awards winners announced:

The 2019 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winners have found success through effective team work, increasing their skills and knowledge, and challenging themselves.

Ethan and Sarah Koch were named the 2019 Auckland/Hauraki Share Farmers of the Year at the region’s annual awards dinner held at the Karaka Pavilion last night and won $12,900 in prizes and five merit awards. The other major winners were the 2019 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Manager of the Year Kyle Brennan, and the 2019 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Trainee of the Year, Rebecca Casidy.

Ethan and Sarah (both aged 28), have backgrounds in building and teaching, and were runners-up in the same category in 2018. . . 


Rural round-up

March 13, 2019

Tax recommendations threaten future prosperity:

Federated Farmers is calling on the Government to reject the majority of the raft of new taxes proposed by the Tax Working Group.

“Small business would pay the costs, large business would spend thousands avoiding the costs and tax advisors and valuers would have a field day,” Federated Farmers Vice-President Andrew Hoggard says.

“There is possibly an argument for a Capital Gains Tax aimed at rental properties if there was some sound evidence it would dampen investor speculation, and reduce price pressure and first home buyers being out-bid. But even with that, we haven’t given the tougher ‘bright line’ test rules a chance to really kick in. . .

Despite rising prices farmers are feeling oppressed from all sides and confidence is low. FIckle urban voters are driving a flood of rules and imposing costs that make little sense to the business of farming – Guy Trafford:

The results of the January Federated Farmers farmer survey have recently been published and makes fairly sober reading – especially in the context that prices for most commodities are reasonably sound.

Only 5.1% of respondents expected economic conditions to improve and but nearly 46% expect economic conditions to worsen, this is the worse result since July 2009.

Given the recent rises in milk prices and solid returns coming for sheep and beef farmers this level of pessimism is somewhat surprising and perhaps is a reflection of where farmers heads are at rather than a measure of what the ‘true’ economic conditions are. . . 

Looking to Generation Z for the future of  food – Sarah Perriam:

The rural sector is rapidly changing.

Consumer demand and global trends means New Zealand farmers need to embrace innovation to be able to compete and thrive in this new and exciting environment.

The next generation is vital for success. . . 

Greenpeace billboard ruled misleading  :

Federated Farmers is pleased the Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that a Greenpeace billboard aimed at fertilizer companies and the dairy industry is misleading and takes advocacy a step too far.

“Federated Farmers believes everyone has the right to express strong views but as the ASA Complaints Board ruling underlines, over-simplification of issues and targeting of two farmer-owned companies is misleading and overly provocative,” Feds environment spokesperson Chris Allen says. . .

Zespri. Appoints Bruce Cameron as chairman – Luke Chivers:

While the kiwifruit industry is having its day in the sun it is not short of challenges. Luke Chivers spoke to new Zespri chairman Bruce Cameron about the future.

New Zespri chairman Bruce Cameron is taking over at a time of strong continuity and volume in kiwifruit exports.

He replaces Te Puna grower Peter McBride who has stood down to pursue other primary industry interests, including a Fonterra directorship. . .

Butter prices go into meltdown :

Butter prices fell 10 percent in February 2019 to a 19-month low, Stats NZ said today.

The average price for a 500g block of butter fell to $5.20 in February 2019, down from a record high of $5.79 in January 2019.

“In January we saw milk prices fall to a 19-month low. This price fall now looks to be flowing on to other dairy products,” consumer prices manager Gael Price said. . . 


Rural round-up

March 2, 2019

Proposed water tax a ‘burden’ on low-water  regions – Stuart Smith:

The proposed new water tax that was announced as part of a swathe of other new taxes potentially facing Kiwis will disproportionally impact on low-rainfall regions like Marlborough.

There are eight new taxes in Michael Cullen’s proposal: the Capital Gains Tax (CGT), tax on vacant residential land, agriculture tax, water tax, fertiliser tax, environmental footprint tax, natural capital tax and a waste tax.

Much has been said about the CGT but the suggested water tax, too, would impact all Kiwis negatively and in particular our farmers, horticulturalists and wine growers in low-rainfall areas. . . 

Partnerships between men and women are critical for farming success – Bonnie Flaws:

With many farms run by married couples, the role of women in farming is a critical one, a female dairy farmer says.

Jessie Chan-Dorman, a former dairy woman of the year, said male farmers could see everyday how women contribute to the business, and they respect that.

“I would say the percentage of women in farming is at least 50 per cent. Nearly every farming business has a partnership that has historically not been seen. But they’ve always been there.” . . 

Studies smoke out fire behaviour – Richard Rennie:

The risk of summer fires is a constant farmers and foresters learn to live with. But the Port Hills fire in 2017 and the Nelson fire last month have brought a human threat to wildfires many Kiwis thought was confined to Australia and North America. With wildfires now affecting rural and urban people Richard Rennie spoke to Scion rural fire researcher Dr Tara Strand about how we are getting smarter at understanding rural fires.

A TEAM of Scion researchers is part of a 27-year history of research into New Zealand’s rural fires, a quiet brigade of climate experts and fire analysts whose job is to help make rural firefighters’ jobs more effective and safer. . .

Grape yield under threat – Joanna Grigg:

Marlborough is experiencing a hydrological drought.

Lack of rain in the mountain catchment has left the Wairau River low, Marlborough District Council hydrologist Val Wadsdworth said.

And summer storage capacity on the plains has been found wanting as a result. January rain of 18mm was soon sucked up by 30C plus temperatures in February.  . .

Matamata to host FMG Young Farmer of the Year regional final :

A Waharoa dairy farmer is facing fierce competition in her quest to be named the FMG Young Farmer of the Year.

Sophia Clark will take on seven other contestants in the Waikato/Bay of Plenty regional final in Matamata next month.

It will be the 30-year-old’s fourth attempt at clinching a coveted spot in the national final. . .

Scott St John leaves Fonterra Fund manager’s board as units hit record  low – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra director and veteran capital markets executive Scott St John has left the board of the shareholder fund’s manager, the same day the units plunged to a new low.

A notice to the Companies Office last night noted St John ceased being a director of FSF Management Co, the manager of the dual-listed Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund, which gives investors exposure to the cooperative’s earnings stream. He is still a director of Fonterra. . .


Iwi exemption too deep a hole

March 1, 2019

The government has another obstacle between it and a capital gains tax:

A capital gains tax exemption could be on the cards for iwi, with the Tax Working Group suggesting a reshuffling of the rules for Māori collectively owned land and assets.

Sir Michael Cullen – who headed the tax working group – is warning of potential legal ramifications if the Government fails to address the issue.

“I think the general non-Māori public needs to understand there are some special cases here and it’s not some particular special deal.

“It arises out of our history and the nature of those collectively owned lands,” Sir Michael says.

It’s not just land, iwi also receive commercial property, forestry and other assets potentially hit by such a tax.

It’s not just land but commercial property, forestry and other assets for everybody else too.

Antony Thompson of Auckland iwi Ngāti Whātua agrees any CGT needs to be looked when it comes to iwi assets.

“It would be detrimental, primarily because we’d be spending more money on tax and we’d be spending less on our people.

Would it be any less detrimental for anyone else, including Maori who can’t prove their whakapapa and therefore don’t benefit from treaty settlements?

“What we really want is equity at the end of the day – the ability for people to determine their own futures, their own destinys,”

Just like the rest of us want equity, more of our own money and the choices that gives us.

If Iwi didn’t have to pay CGT would they also be exempt from the tax cuts that are supposed to compensate the rest of us for the CGT? Of course not and there goes another hole in the fairness bucket.

It’s not hard to justify compensation for historical wrongs. There’s a lot less sympathy for the TGW’s idea that Iwi pay a lower rate than the rest of us and if the government was to try to impose a CGT that exempted Iwi altogether it would be courting financial and political failure.

Any exemption would reduce the income a CGT is supposed to raise to compensate for tax cuts.

An Iwi exemption would also buy the government a fight it couldn’t win and it would dig itself into a hole too deep for political survival.


What’s fair about this?

February 27, 2019

A comprehensive capital gains tax that was inflation indexed and set at a modest rate could be okay.

The CGT proposed by the Tax Working Group fails on all three points.

One of the motivations for contemplating a CGT at all is fairness.

But Liam Hehir gives some examples that show how what’s proposed is anything but fair:

John is a supermarket manager and Alice has a small business as an in-home childcare provider.

They deduct part of their mortgage interest and outgoings from her taxable income, which helps them make ends meet.

Because they do this, however, they will have to pay Cullen’s tax when they sell their home.

Justin and Dana also have a house and children. Dana has a well-paying job as a dentist, which enables Justin to be a stay-at-home dad.

They have no need to use any part of their home for business purposes so will reap capital gains on their home untouched by the Cullen’s tax.

Terry is an IT contractor who worked hard to get on the property ladder.

Because house prices are expensive, he needs rent paying flatmates. He dutifully includes the rent in his tax return and claims a deduction for expenses.

When he decides to move he will become liable to pay Cullen’s tax on part of the sale proceeds.

Nick has a master of fine arts degree. It hasn’t led to a well paying job, but he is lucky to be supported by a family trust fund.

This has enabled him to buy a house and a number of paintings, some of which have become valuable in their own right. Nick decides he wants to travel the world on a voyage of self-discovery. He sells his property and art and incurs no liability to pay Cullen’s tax. . .

He gives several other examples which show how arbitrary and unfair the CGT proposal is.

There are plenty more, for example: Sue and Sam are lower order sharemilkers who save enough to buy a block of land on which they graze young stock. They get the opportunity to go 50-50 sharemilking, would have to sell the land to buy cows. Having 33% taken off them for CGT wouldn’t leave them enough to buy the stock without taking out a sizeable loan.

Pam and Pete are lower order sharemilkers on her parents’ farm. They save enough to buy a small block of land on which they graze young stock. Her parents give them the opportunity to go 50-50 sharemilking and gift them the money to do it.

It’s not hard to think of many more examples where the CGT will stop people getting ahead and it would also be far-reaching.

Contrary to the Prime Minister’s assertion that a CGT would affect very few people it will hit a lot and David Farrar lists those who will have to pay.

The list of 20 is only those who will pay directly. It doesn’t include everyone who will be affected indirectly, which will be everyone who buys goods or services from any business i.e. everyone.

There would be small tax cuts but they wouldn’t go far once costs start rising because of the CGT.

Whether you call it fairness or politics of envy, the motivation behind the CGT is to reduce inequality but it won’t do that.

The wealthy will find ways to avoid it and even if they don’t would still have plenty left.

Middle income people will have a third of their modest savings and investments eaten by the tax and they, like the poor will be hurt further by rising prices.

The CGT as proposed will not reduce inequality. It will provide a perverse incentive to over-invest in owner-occupied homes and it will apply a hand brake to the risk taking, innovation and investment which promote economic growth which creates jobs and – the government’s new word of the moment – wellbeing.

 


Rural round-up

February 23, 2019

Rural sector gives thumbs down to capital gains tax – Jamie Gray:

The rural sector has given an unequivocal thumbs down to the Tax Working Group’s recommendation to bring in an comprehensive capital gains tax.

The group has recommended the Government implement a capital gains tax – and use the money gained to lower the personal tax rate and to target polluters.

The suggested capital gains tax (CGT) would cover assets such as land, shares, investment properties, business assets and intellectual property. . . 

Fonterra farmers frustrated with DIRA – Hugh Stringleman:

The Fonterra Shareholders’ Council has called for an end to open entry to the co-operative and a clear path to dairy industry deregulation.

In its submission to the Ministry of Primary Industries review of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act the council also called for an end to access to regulated milk by other export processors.

Goodman Fielder should be entitled to buy Fonterra milk for domestic purposes only, the submissions said.

Council chairman Duncan Coull also called for all other dairy companies to be required to publish their milk prices in a standardised form. . . 

Wool levy vote welcomed, but clear plan preferred – Ken Muir:

While farmers and industry leaders welcomed news that the Federated Farmers Meat and Wool Council voted last week to support a compulsory wool levy on wool producers, there was a clear preference for any such levy to be applied on the context of a robust business plan.

”We’ve had lots of different levies over the years for the industry and at the end of the day farmers saw very little return,” Waikoikoi farmer Blair Robertson said.

”Going forward we have to make sure the money gets to where it needs to be – marketing and promoting wool products to end customers.”

He said in the past bureaucracies had grown around the sector which chewed through millions of dollars while providing very little in return. . . 

Sexist comments on job ad damage New Zealand’s image, farmers warn – Esther Taunton:

Sexist responses to a backpacker’s job ad are a blow to New Zealand’s image and to an industry already struggling to find good workers, farmers warn.

Finnish traveller Mari Vahanen advertised on a farming Facebook page, saying she was a hardworking farmhand or machine operator.

The post received 1600 responses, but most of them focused on Vahanen’s appearance rather than her employment prospects.

Tararua dairy farmer Micha Johansen said the comments were a bad look for New Zealand’s agricultural sector and the country in general.  . .

Waikato farmers encouraged to plant trees to protect stock from summer heat – Kelly Tantau:

With temperatures soaring above 30 degrees in Matamata-Piako, a thought can be spared for the district’s livestock.

Cows prefer cooler weather, Federated Farmers Waikato president Andrew McGiven said, but farmers are doing well in ensuring their stock is protected during the summer season.

“Animal welfare and animal husbandry is probably the number one thing, because that’s what is earning you your income, so protecting and looking after them, but also looking after staff as well,” he said. . . 

Ninety seven A&P shows beckon – Yvonne O’Hara:

Geoff Smith attends as many A&P shows as he can during the season and there are 97 of them.

In his third year as the New Zealand Royal Agricultural Society’s (RAS) president, he spends time finding ways to ensure the shows remain relevant to their communities, as well as building relationships with other rural and civic organisations.

He is in Central Otago this week to go to the Mt Benger, Central Otago and Maniototo shows, as well as attending the society’s southern district executive meeting in Tapanui on Sunday. . . 

NZ company helping write global cannabis industry standards:

Ruatoria-based Hikurangi Cannabis Company has been in Rome this week participating in an international standards setting meeting for the cannabis industry. The meeting included recommended changes to the way cannabis is defined in both legal and scientific terms.

ASTM International, a global industry standards body with 30,000 members worldwide representing more than 20 industry sectors held a workshop in Rome under its technical committee D37 on Cannabis. The group of 600 industry experts are working to develop standards for cannabis products testing and production processes across the globe.

The group aims to meet the needs of the legal cannabis industry by addressing quality and safety issues through the development of classifications, specifications, test methods, practices, and guides for cultivation, manufacturing, quality assurance, laboratory considerations, packaging, and security. . . 


Better taxes

February 23, 2019

Better taxes are simple taxes.

The Tax Working Group’s capital gains tax proposal is complicated with all the costs and opportunities for avoidance that go with complications.

Better taxes encourage what we need more of.

The TGW’s CTG proposal would tax savings and investment.

Better taxes discourage what we want less of.

The TGW’s CTG exempts the family home which would encourage even greater investment in housing.

Better taxes reward hard work, thrift and delayed gratification.

The TGW’s CTG would tax businesses and exempt art, cars and yachts.

The TGW’s CTG is a bad tax.

 


Rural round-up

February 22, 2019

Guy Trafford assesses how the Tax Working Group report would change signals to farmers, and how they are likely to respond – Guy Trafford:

Given the signals that have been coming out from the Tax Working Group over the last few months there haven’t been too many surprises as to what was revealed today. That may, probably will, come after the politicians have had their play with it.

From a farming perspective there are some pluses and minuses.

Succession planning
The roll over clause is attractive, but liable to alter land/business selling behaviour. It is only available as a succession tool in the event of the assets being passed on after the death. It is then made a liability in the event of the next generation deciding to sell at which point the value goes back to 2021 or whenever the older generation first took over the land. . . 

Grass on the A2 side of the dairy fence is looking greener – and the profits plusher – Point of Order:

The  contrasting   fortunes of  Fonterra  and  A2 Milk came into the  spotlight   this  week,  after the  latter  reported a  startling 55%  rise in  half-year net profit  to  $152m.  Fonterra  shareholders will be ruefelly recalling  their  company’s  performance last year  when  it  reported its  first-ever  net  loss  of  $196m.

A2 Milk  shareholders  are  marching to a  very  different  tune.  Despite  one market  analyst  reckoning its share price had  become over-priced, buyers  pushed  it up  by  more than  a dollar to  $13.95  as they absorbed  news  of   strong sales growth in all key product segments – infant formula, liquid milk and milk powders. . . 

Fatty milk Jersey cows in demand – Yvonne O’Hara:

”Fat is back” and no longer the ”ogre” it used to be, and that is good news for Jerseys as they have a higher fat content relative to protein than many other breeds.

DairyNZ’s New Zealand Animal Evaluation Unit (NZAEL) released its annual Economic Values (EV) index last week to reflect the increased global demand for high fat dairy products, compared to protein.

Economic Values is an estimate of a trait’s value to a dairy farmer’s production and profitability and contributes to cattle breeding worth (BW). . . 

LIC welcomes Fonterra’s a2 announcement:

The farmer-owned co-operative, which breeds up to 80% of the national dairy herd, says this increase in supply matches the demand it has experienced for its A2 genetics and testing services.

Last year, the co-operative introduced dedicated A2 bull teams and extended its test offering in anticipation of Fonterra’s next move with The a2 Milk Company.

LIC’s General Manager NZ Markets, Malcolm Ellis, who is also a Fonterra shareholder and farm owner, comments:

Fonterra scours world for $800m cash injection – Hugh Stringleman:

Where in the world will Fonterra get $800 million to reduce its debt while returning to profitability and making enough money to pay a good dividend on the $6 billion dairy farmers have invested in the co-operative? Hugh Stringleman looks for answers.

March 20 looms as the next milestone in Fonterra’s return to financial health and wellbeing when it declares first-half results for the 2019 year.

It will also say where asset sales, joint ventures and partnerships will be made or amended to improve the balance sheet. . .

Kiwifruit sector front-foots campaign to find pickers:

The kiwifruit industry is pulling out all the stops to make sure the 2019 harvest, which starts mid-March, isn’t short of workers – ensuring that quality Zespri kiwifruit is sent to overseas customers in premium condition.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) Chief Executive Officer Nikki Johnson says the amount of green and gold kiwifruit on the vines is forecast to be even higher than last year’s harvest, meaning around 18,000 workers will be needed. “Last year, the harvest was at least 1,200 workers short at the peak – we don’t want a repeat of that.” . . 

Central Districts Field Days has something for everyone:

More than 26,000 people are expected to flock to Manfeild in Feilding this month for New Zealand’s largest regional agricultural event, Central Districts Field Days.

Now in its 26th year, the 2019 event has plenty to offer all – from farmers and foodies to tech heads and townies.

“We’re really excited about this year’s event,” says Stuff Events & Sponsorship Director David Blackwell. “There are a record number of exhibitors and we have some great new areas and activities that are sure to make this year’s Central Districts Field Days a community event to remember.” . . 

Give it a go” – Bay or Plenty Young Grower of the Year  :

Alex Ashe, a technical advisor at Farmlands Te Puna, was named Bay of Plenty’s Young Fruit Grower for 2019 at an awards dinner in Tauranga last night.

The practical competition took place last Saturday, 9 February, at Te Puke Showgrounds, where the eight competitors tested their skills and ability to run a successful orchard in a series of challenges. These were followed by a speech competition discussing future disruptors to horticulture at the gala dinner last night. . .

Wine survey reveals profit, innovation and price on the up :

For only the third time in the history of the annual survey, all five winery tiers featured profitable results in 2018

Survey results indicate a positive correlation between innovation and financial performance.

2018 saw a 1.8 percent lift in average prices received by Kiwi wineries. . .

Veganism is on the rise, but experts say the cons of the diet outweigh the pros – Martin Cohen and Frederic Leroy:

After decades in which the number of people choosing to cut out meat from their diet has steadily increased, 2019 is set to be the year the world changes the way that it eats. Or at least, that’s the ambitious aim of a major campaign under the umbrella of an organisation simply called EAT. The core message is to discourage meat and dairy, seen as part of an “over-consumption of protein” – and specifically to target consumption of beef.

The push comes at a time when consumer behaviour already seems to be shifting. In the three years following 2014, according to research firm GlobalData, there was a six-fold increase in people identifying as vegans in the US, a huge rise – albeit from a very low base. It’s a similar story in the UK, where the number of vegans has increased by 350 per cent, compared to a decade ago, at least according to research commissioned by the Vegan Society. . . 

 


More than a CGT

February 22, 2019

The proposed capital gains tax (CGT) has got most of the attention, but worryingly there’s more, including the proposal of a water tax that would affect everyone:

IrrigationNZ says a proposed nationwide water tax would affect all Kiwis, and there needs to be more discussion about how this would impact households, farmers and businesses.

“The Tax Working Party has recommended the government consider introducing a water tax on all types of water use including hydro-generation, household use and commercial water use,” says Nicky Hyslop, IrrigationNZ Chair.

“This would result in higher power and food prices for households and businesses and higher rates bills to pay for the irrigation of parks and reserves as well as direct water tax on household and business water use.”

An increase in the cost of production inevitably leads to an increase in the cost of what’s produced.

The working party is proposing that the water tax could be used to fund the restoration of waterways.

“While we all want to see cleaner rivers, often the solutions to improving rivers require people to change their existing practices both on farm and to prevent urban wastewater discharges into rivers. Just allocating money will not be the most effective solution,” says Mrs Hyslop.

This was proposed before the last election and was rightly criticised for taxing the good to clean up after the bad.

“We need to think about whether a water tax is equitable as water use varies hugely across regions based on rainfall. For example a Christchurch resident uses an average of 146,700 litres of water per year, while the average for a New Zealander is 82,800. Someone living in Christchurch would pay nearly twice as much in a water tax as someone living elsewhere and would also pay more in rates because in a dryer climate the Council will use more water to irrigate their local parks. Is taxing dryer regions such as Canterbury, Otago, Hawke’s Bay and Marlborough more heavily with a water tax a fair way to fund river restoration nationwide?”

Mrs Hyslop says there are similar equity issues for farmers and growers.

“Some regions receive a significant amount of rainfall and farmers don’t need to use irrigation. Central Otago receives less than half the rainfall of Auckland, so farmers and growers rely on irrigation to grow stonefruit, wine and for pastoral farming to provide feed for animals. Only 7% of farmers use irrigation nationwide – why are those farmers being targeted to pay a tax which 93% of farmers won’t pay when there are many regions which have very poor waterways but little use of irrigation?”

Generally waterways with more irrigation are cleaner than those with less or none.

Mrs Hyslop says that a water tax on hydro-electric power generation would also add to power bills for households and businesses and this tax doesn’t make sense at a time when the government wants to encourage the use of renewable energy to meet climate change targets.

The poor already struggle to pay their power bills, why make it worse for no environmental gain?

“Currently a number of regions are suffering from very dry conditions and we need to be developing more water storage as climate change is predicted to bring more frequent droughts in the future,” she adds.

“We disagree with the suggestion in the report that introducing a water tax will encourage greater investment in water storage. If you look at the most recently approved water storage project – the Waimea Dam – a price increase for the dam construction nearly resulted in it not being built. Introducing a new tax on water use will add to be long-term costs of this and similar projects and make them less viable and less likely to be built. We really need more investment in these projects to ensure we have enough water to supply our growing population and get through more frequent future droughts.”

“We also have concerns that farmers and growers in many regions may face significant water tax costs in excess of $10,000 a year which will make it more difficult to fund the environmental improvements we all want to see to improve waterways,” she says.

“The report discusses how a water tax will encourage more efficient water use. There are already a number of existing incentives that encourage efficient water use including electricity costs and regulatory nutrient limit rules which require farmers to only use water when needed. The biggest improvements in water use efficiency come from modernising irrigation systems.Farmers and irrigation schemes have already invested $1.7 billion to modernise their systems since 2011, resulting in significant improvements in water efficiency. Introducing a major new tax will reduce farmers ability to replace an older irrigation system with a more water efficient model.” 

The capital gains and water taxes aren’t the only monsters unleashed by the TWG .

The Tax Working Group has gone much further than a Capital Gains Tax with a raft of new taxes targeting hard-working New Zealanders, National Leader Simon Bridges says.

There are eight new taxes including; an agriculture tax, a tax on empty residential land, a water tax, a fertiliser tax, an environmental footprint tax, a natural capital enhancement tax, a waste levy and a Capital Gains Tax.

“This is an attack on the Kiwi way of life. This would hit every New Zealander with a Kiwi Saver, shares, investment property, a small business, a lifestyle block, a bach or even an empty section,” Mr Bridges says.

“For farmers, who are the backbone of our economy, this is a declaration of war on their businesses and way of life. They would pay to water their stock, feed their crops and even when they sell up for retirement.

“Labour claims this is about fairness, but that’s rubbish. The CGT would apply to small business owners like the local plumber, but not to investors with a multi-million dollar art collection or a super yacht who won’t pay a cent more.

“The TWG has recommended one of the highest rates of Capital Gains Tax in the world. The Government would reap $8.3 billion extra in its first five years from ordinary Kiwis – small business owners, farmers, investors, bach and lifestyle block owners. After 10 years it would be taking $6 billion a year from Kiwis.

“It will lead to boom times for tax lawyers and accountants and even Iwi advisers, given recommendations for exclusions that include Māori land in multiple ownership.

“We believe New Zealanders already pay enough tax and the Government should be looking at tax relief, not taking even more out of the pockets of New Zealand families.

“National says no to new taxes. We would repeal a Capital Gains Tax, index tax thresholds to the cost of living and let Kiwis keep more of what they earn.”

The government keeps trying to counter the accusation it’s not a good economic manager.

Introducing new and higher taxes is not the way to do it.

It should be aiming for higher quality spending not more spending and reducing the burden of tax to allow us all to keep more of our own money.

 


CGT would hit middle hardest

February 22, 2019

It there’s such a thing as a fair tax, it’s not one based on misplaced envy as the Tax Working Group’s capital gains tax appears to be.

No photo description available.
Fairness is desirable but not at any cost and  it’s best achieved by helping the poor up not pulling the better-off down, especially when those who will be hit hardest are those with modest investments, not the really wealthy, and worse still, they’d be hit by one of the most penal CGTs in the world:

The Tax Working Group’s report released today proposes a broad-based top rate of 33% capital gains tax (CGT).

The New Zealand Initiative argues in a new policy note, The Pitfalls of CGT, that headline rate would immediately push New Zealand to the top of the international CGT rankings among industrialised economies, just behind Denmark and Finland.

“The proposal is conspicuous by a lack of exemptions and concessions around business investment, so a full rate would arguably qualify New Zealand’s CGT regime as one of the harshest in the world,” said Dr Patrick Carvalho, Research Fellow and author of the note.

“Worse, given New Zealand’s recognisably low-income tax thresholds by international standards, a new CGT would disproportionately hit middle-income earners already struggling to invest for retirement.”

“New Zealand should be cautious about siren calls for a top-ranking CGT. Trying to punch above our weight can sometimes place us in the wrong fight category,” concludes Dr Carvalho.

A good tax would foster investment that would help businesses grow, produce more and employ more.

A good tax would encourage and reward thrift and delayed gratification.

A good tax would improve productivity and promote growth.

The CTG as proposed would do the opposite.

New Zealand needs foreign investment because we don’t have enough of our own capital. The CGT would aggravate that by making investing overseas more attractive than investing domestically:

The Tax Working Group (TWG) proposals released this morning would skew New Zealand investors away from local assets, distort the KiwiSaver market and mangle the portfolio investment entity (PIE) regime if introduced, according to the founder of the country’s largest direct-to-consumer managed fund platform.

Anthony Edmonds, InvestNow founder, said while the TWG final report includes some welcome reforms, overall the capital gains tax (CGT) recommendations would add cost, complexity and confusion to New Zealand’s relatively efficient managed funds market.

“For example, the TWG’s plan to increase tax on New Zealand shares by applying CGT while leaving the fair dividend rate (FDR) tax for offshore shares unchanged would naturally drag capital offshore at the expense of local assets – at a time when New Zealand needs to fund major infrastructure projects,” Edmonds said. “In trying to discourage people from investing in residential property, the TWG has created a tax disincentive for Kiwi shares, which can only distort investment allocation decisions.”

Essentially, the TWG recommendation to tax unrealised capital gains on PIE funds marks a return to the ‘bad old days’ when Kiwis paid more tax on managed funds than direct share investments. . .

Concern over the housing shortage is one of the motivating factors for a CGT but It won’t improve home affordability in the long term:

Bindi Norwell, Chief Executive at REINZ says: “In the short-term there may be some initial relief in house price affordability as investors look to sell their property to avoid paying CGT. This may create opportunities for first home buyers.

“However, in the long term it’s likely to push house prices up as people look to invest more money in the family home, as there will be less incentive to invest in rental properties or other forms of investment e.g. equities.

“This will also have a flow on effect for the rental market with fewer rental properties available for tenants, thereby further pushing up weekly rental prices when they are already at an all-time high.

“The report even recognises that any impact on housing affordability could be small, therefore, we question whether all of the administrative burden and cost to implement GCT is worth it? Especially as CGT coming at the end of a raft of legislative changes the housing market has faced recently including the foreign buyer ban, ban on letting fees, insulation, healthy homes and ring fencing. . .

A tax that results in fewer and more costly rentals and more expensive homes is not a good one.

Nor is a tax that is fatally flawed:

Today’s Tax Working Group report recommendation for a new capital gains tax will not address residential housing affordability but it will penalise business owners and create costly complexity in our tax system, meaning it is fatally flawed, according to Business Central.

“New Zealand’s tax system is envied worldwide. The proposed capital gains tax increases compliance costs without boosting productivity,” says Business Central Chief Executive John Milford.

“Business Central agrees with the conclusions of the minority view on the Tax Working Group.

“A capital gains tax is just another cost on business, nothing more. . .

It would hit small and medium businesses hardest:

Key areas of the Tax Working Group Final Report released today were disappointing, says Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Leeann Watson. . . 

Ms Watson says the proposed capital gains rules should not be implemented because of the significant impact on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

“We support the Government’s review to ensure that our tax system is fit for purpose for a changing business environment. However, there is very real concern that taxing both shares and business assets under a comprehensive capital gains tax regime would create double taxation.

“This could disadvantage New Zealanders owning shares in New Zealand and create inconsistencies around overall taxation on investment.”

Ms Watson says a capital gains tax would be unlikely to achieve the desired outcome for business.

“There is concern around the effect for capital markets in a capital constrained economy with a long-term savings deficit. Adding further tax on the savings and investment of those New Zealanders in the middle-income bracket won’t drive the deepening and broadening of the capital base that we need for business investment, which is higher productivity and wages.

“While the impetus behind the changes are aspirational, there is little to indicate they would significantly reduce overinvestment in housing or increase ‘tax fairness’. In addition, there is concern that additional administration costs and investment distortions could outweigh any benefits and potentially discourage much-needed investment and innovation by locking businesses into current asset holdings.

“It is vitally important that we remain competitive as a country and are not continuing to add further compliance for business and in particular small business, who represent 97% of all businesses in our economy.”

Ms Watson says there needs to be a viable business case for any changes to the current tax system.

“There seems to be a real focus on ‘fairness’ in the system design, as opposed to revenue-building, so we need to be careful that any tax changes are for the right reasons and are backed by a clear, practical and sustainable business case. We currently have a fairly simple and efficient tax system that should be kept and better enforced, with changes to specific rules where needed.” . . 

The costs of a good tax would not outweigh the benefits:

The Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA) says the key issue in the Tax Working Group’s proposal released today is that the cost of its capital gains tax rules will outweigh any benefits.

Chief executive Brett O’Riley says any gains from such a broad-based capital gains tax would be eaten up by administration and other costs, leaving little revenue.

“Fundamentally the proposed capital gains rules don’t address the Tax Working Group’s objectives of reducing over-investment in housing and increasing tax fairness,” he says.

Mr O’Riley is also concerned that capital gains tax on business assets could discourage investment and innovation, locking businesses into their current asset holdings. He says there are other policy settings that could be changed to increase investment in different asset classes, away from property.

“I also fail to see how taxing growth on the value of assets from the proposed commencement date of 1 April 2021 would work, because it would be open to conflicting valuations,” he says. “It could also act as a further disincentive to growth when New Zealand already has issues with business not growing from SME’s into larger scale operations and a CGT may also limit the availability of capital to reinvest in businesses as smaller businesses face an additional tax bill.

“It’s difficult to see any benefits for the business community from implementing the proposed capital gains tax rules, as taxing both shares and business assets appears to be double taxation,” says Mr O’Riley.

It is relevant to note that a number of the Tax Working Group do not favour its recommendations on capital gains tax. The minority view summary is available here

One reason for dissension was compliance costs:

Former IRD Deputy Commissioner Robin Oliver was one of the 11 in the Tax Working Group.

Along with two others from the group, he believes the costs and bureaucratic red tape involved in adopting all the capital gains options outweigh the benefits.  

“We didn’t agree that this was in the best interest of the country to go the full extent, particularly in the business area, taxing share gains which result in double taxation,” he said.

“To get a valuation for all business assets in all parts business and all business will easily cost over a billion dollars in compliance costs. The amount of revenue you’ll get is relatively minor.”

As for taxing shares, Mr Oliver said it would result in New Zealanders who invest in New Zealand companies paying more tax when foreigners investing in New Zealand companies will pay no more tax. Furthermore, New Zealanders investing in foreign companies will pay no more tax.

“The obvious conclusion is New Zealanders will own less New Zealand companies and more foreign companies, and foreigners will own our companies,” he said. . . 

The proposed tax is no panacea for fairness:

Deloitte tax partner Patrick McCalman warns that a CGT is not a panacea for tax fairness.

“At one level, there is an attractiveness in the argument that a ‘buck is a buck’ and everyone should bear the same tax burden on every dollar earned. However, when one delves into the detail of the design, other issues of fairness emerge,” says Mr McCalman.

“For example, is it fair that property could pass on death without an immediate CGT cost, while gifts made during one’s life would be taxed? For family businesses, wouldn’t it be more productive to be able to pass assets from generation to generation before death,” he says.

“Accordingly, we need to be cautious as to how much ‘fairness’ a CGT will introduce. It may simply change where the ‘unfairness’ is perceived to sit within the tax system, creating new tax exemptions that would distort where investments are made.”

Complicating matters further is the political dimension. And MMP only exacerbates the political difficulty and increases the likelihood of whatever ultimately sees the light of day being less coherent from a policy perspective. . . 

The Deloitte paper raises several questions about fairness:

At one level there is an attractiveness in the argument that a “buck is a buck” and everyone should therefore bear the same tax burden on every dollar earned. However, when one delves into the detail, other issues of fairness emerge including new tax exemptions which would distort where investments are made – in effect, in seeking to create fairness, the proposal creates a number of layers of unfairness. For example:

    • With a CGT applying at full rates with no inflation indexation, is it fair that someone who buys an asset is taxed on the full amount of any gain when part of that gain is simply inflation? How will they be able to re-invest in a new asset if the inflation element is taxed?
    • Is it fair that the family home and artwork are excluded but most other property is not? Consider a plumber who has a $500,000 house and a $500,000 commercial building who would be taxed on the disposal of the commercial building. Should they have instead bought a $1,000,000 house, rented a business premise and enjoyed a tax free capital gain?
    • Is it fair that that investors in New Zealand shares would pay tax on capital gains but investors in foreign shares would continue to be subject (as they are presently) to the 5% FDR rate (even if gains are less or more)?
    • Is it fair that small business (turnover less than $5 million) could sell assets and defer the CGT bill if they reinvest the proceeds, while medium and larger size business cannot?
    • Is it fair that property could pass on death without an immediate CGT cost but gifts made to children during one’s life would be taxed?
    • Is it fair that there are proposed tax reductions for KiwiSaver to compensate for CGT but not for other forms of investment?

At one level, true fairness can only exist if all asset classes and forms of remuneration are subject to the same tax rate. But even then, anomalies will always arise. . . 

The proposed tax would be especially bad for farming and farmers:

Federated Farmers has said from the outset that a capital gains tax is a mangy dog, that will add unacceptably high costs and complexity.

“There is nothing in the Tax Working Group’s final report, released today, that persuades us otherwise,” Feds Vice-President and Commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

“A CGT would make our well-regarded tax system more complex, it will impose hefty costs, both in compliance for taxpayers and in administration for Inland Revenue, and it will do little or nothing to ease the housing crisis.”

It is notable that even the members of the working group could not agree on the best way forward, with three deciding a tax on capital gains should only apply to the sale of residential rental properties and the other eight recommending it should be broadened to also include land and buildings, assets, intangible property and shares.

“Federated Farmers believes that the majority on the tax working group have badly under-estimated the complexity and compliance costs of what they’re proposing, and over-estimated the returns.”

The recommended ‘valuation day’ approach to establishing the value of assets, even with a five-year window, will be a feeding frenzy for valuers and tax advisors, “and just the start of the compliance headaches for farmers and other operators of small businesses that are the driving force of the New Zealand society and economy. . .

Farm succession is difficult enough as it is.

A CTG would make it harder still and encourage older farmers to hold on to their farms. That would lead to more absentee ownership and leasing with less investment in improvements as happens in other countries.

New Zealand doesn’t have a lot of many wealthy people and while those relatively few would pay more with the CGT as proposed, if their accountants and lawyers didn’t help them find ways to minimise their liability, they’d still be wealthy.

The many small business owners and more modest investors would not. They’d have the reward for their hard work and thrift cut back and lose enough of the value of their investments to hurt – unless they’d invested in art, cars or yachts which would be exempt.

That sends the message that such luxuries are good while investing in businesses and productive assets is not.

Where’s the fairness in that?


CGT deliberately harsh so won’t be implemented?

February 21, 2019

The Taxpayers’ Union says the Tax Working Group’s recommendation for a capital gains tax is one of the most aggressive in the world.

Sir Michael’s group was supposed to deliver ‘fairness’. Instead, he’s given something Kiwi taxpayers should fear.

In our recent report, we outlined Five Rules for a Fair Capital Gains Tax, but any notion of fairness has been flagrantly disregarded by the Working Group. It fails most of our tests.

As expected, the Group is proposing a full-scale capital gains tax, among other measures such as environmental taxes.

The only assets excluded from the proposed capital gains tax are small family homes and art – commercial property, businesses, publicly listed shares, and every other type of enterprise will be slammed by this tax:

    • Capital gains will be charged at 33% for the majority of taxpayers – one of the most punitive capital gains tax regimes in the world, and more than twice the rate proposed by the Labour Party at the 2011 and 2014 elections.  
    • There will be no inflation adjustment – even paper gains will be hoovered up by IRD.
    • Revenue neutrality only applies for the first five years: while the group proposes changes to income tax thresholds (see below) most of the revenue from a capital gains tax is forecast to be collected after five years — after ‘revenue neutrality’ has expired.
    • ‘Valuation Day’ is imminent: taxpayers will be forced to value their assets within five years, or must rely on rough and ready evaluations (such as rateable value for land).  

Even though the Government explicitly ruled out taxing the family home, properties larger than 4500m2 will in fact be taxed. The message to regional New Zealand is that their lifestyle blocks, farms, and semi-rural properties don’t deserve the protection given to Wellington and Auckland penthouses and townhouses.

Iwi-owned businesses will pay a discounted rate (17.5 percent, compared to 33 percent for other businesses).

In short, the proposal is as bad as we could have feared.

It is a costly, bureaucratic, and seemingly envy-driven tax grab. It threatens New Zealand’s prosperity, drives up housing costs, and punishes responsible investors.

You can read the Tax Working Group’s final report here.

Proposed sweetener with changes to income tax appear to be spin rather than substantive

While the Working Group supports adjusting the bottom tax threshold, they propose coupling this with an increase in the second tax rate from 17.5% to 20.5% to increase ‘progressivity’.

From an economic incentive perspective, this is a terrible move. Even though many taxpayers will receive a small tax cut, middle-income earners would face a higher marginal tax rate on additional earnings, which reduces the incentive to take on more hours, skill-up, or take-on extra responsibility at work.

45.6 percent of earners fall within the second tax bracket, hundreds of thousands of earners could be affected by this distortion in incentives – the cumulative economic effect would be massive. . . 

What government in its right mind would introduce a tax to fear rather than a fair tax, one that is costly, bureaucratic, and seemingly envy-driven and a disincentive to savings and investment?

If I was a conspiracy theorist I’d say the TWG has deliberately made it too harsh so that it would be political suicide to introduce it, but that’s probably just wishful thinking.


CGT gets it back to front

February 21, 2019

If there’s such a good thing as a good tax, it’s one that discourages things we don’t want and encourages things we do.

That’s where the Tax Working Group was handicapped from the start when the government ruled out any CGT on the family home.

A CGT hasn’t had any impact on keeping house prices down in other countries, but if, as we’re constantly told New Zealander’s over-invest in their houses, taxing other capital gains and leaving houses alone will only make matters worse.

We’re also told, with good reason, that New Zealand lacks savings and investments. Why then would a government introduce a tax which disincentives them?

If has been widely forecast the Tax Working group’s report recommends a CGT on savings, investment and businesses and not on family homes, it will be getting the tax the bad more and the good less rule back to front.

It will almost certainly get a lot more wrong.

The Taxpayer’s Union provided five rules for a CGT:

To be fair, a new capital gains tax must abide by the following:

  1. No Valuation Day: Any capital gains tax regime should exclude a valuation day approach in favour of grandfathering assets into the system upon sale, as was the case in Australia when it introduced a capital gains tax.
  2. Indexation for Inflation: Any capital gains tax regime must discount for inflation, so taxpayers are taxed only on their real capital gains, rather than nominal gains.
  3. Revenue Neutrality: Given the Government’s surpluses, any revenue from a capital gains tax must be used to fund tax cuts in other areas so that the total tax burden does not increase overall.
  4. Roll-Over Relief: Tax should be paid only on sale – not death. Further, there should be roll-over relief when capital raised from a sale is then immediately invested in the same asset class.
  5. Discounted Rate: Any capital gains tax should apply at a discounted rate, instead of at the full personal income tax rate, to avoid New Zealand having one of the highest capital gains tax rates in the world.

The TU has also provided 19 details to look out for in the recommendation for a CGT:

Details to look out for include:

  • Rollover relief:
    • will the capital gains tax apply on death or just on sale of an asset;
    • will the tax apply if capital is simply being recycled within the same asset class (selling a smaller farm to purchase a larger farm, for example)?
  • The rate:
    • will there will be a discounted or lower rate, like in Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, or the United States?
  • Revenue neutrality:
    • will the revenue be offset with tax cuts;
    • if so, who will receive them;
    • will revenue neutrality be maintained in the medium-to-long term as CGT revenue grows?
  • Family home exemption:
    • will there be exemption exclusions for large properties (will lifestyle blocks be subject to the tax?);
    • will there be a ‘maximum value’ for the family home;
    • how much tax will be payable if there is an exemption exclusion?
  • ‘Valuation Day’:
    • will asset owners be required to value their property and businesses;
    • if so, will it be at their expense, or will the general taxpayer be required to pay;
    • if the general taxpayer is required to pay, what will be the estimated cost of ‘V-Day’;
    • how much time will taxpayers have to obtain asset valuations;
    • if valuations are not obtained, will other ‘default valuations’ be used?
  • Exemptions:
    • are there any sectoral exemptions (e.g. racing, fisheries);
    • will Maori authorities pay capital gains tax, if so, at what rate;
    • how are vehicles, boats, antiques etc. treated?
  • Trusts:
    • at what rate are trusts taxed;
    • will they be taxed on accrued or realised gains?

Fairness, which is the supposed motivation for introducing a CGT, is very much a matter of opinion but if the proposals from the TWG don’t meet the five rules, it will be anything but fair and do more harm by disincentivising savings and investment.

 


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