IRD paid for Spinoff articles

Commercial media have to find ways of getting revenue for their work, but there have been a questionable series of articles tax articles at The Spinoff, funded by IRD to the tune of $40,000, according to OIA discoveries by the Taxpayers’ Union.

Tax Villains: The Spinoff Breach $40,000 Agreement With IRD

The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union can reveal that The Spinoff have broken the terms of their agreement with IRD to publish content in their Tax Heroes project.

The Tax Heroes project, which featured a number of articles from writers associated with The Spinoff, intended to highlight the public good of paying taxes, and in doing so promote compliance with tax obligations among the public.

Due to an official information request, the Taxpayers’ Union can reveal that The Spinoff was paid $40,000 ($46,000 including GST) by the IRD to publish the series.

The IRD is required to be politically neutral – especially so for matters currently under consideration by Sir Michael Cullen’s Tax Working Group.

The Spinoff’s contract with the IRD specifically states: The Spinoff agrees not to refer to any political party or their policies in the content.

However, an IRD-branded article by Maria Slade, published on 31 March, ignores the contractual obligation.

This article, titled Why the lack of a capital gains tax is letting property companies off lightly, names Labour along with a click baity baby reference, in the same sentence as it mentions a capital gains tax:

Whether New Zealand should introduce a capital gains tax is set to be almost as hot a topic in Labour’s first term as the prime minister’s pregnancy.

The Taxpayers’ Union claims:

The article “Why the lack of a capital gains tax is letting property companies off lightly” advocates for a Green Party policy, a capital gains tax, violating the agreement.

I thought it was also a Labour party policy. A quick check id Labour’s Tax Plan proves this.

  • Set up a Tax Working Group, to ensure that there is a better and fairer balance between the taxation of income and assets, in particular the capital gain associated with property speculation.

The fact that IRD funded articles like this at at The Spinoff, and how many articles were funded, are also potential issues.

Other overtly political articles bear the ‘Tax Heroes’ tag, but without IRD branding. IRD and The Spinoff must explain whether any of these articles were paid for with taxpayer funds.

If not, and IRD funding was only used for the articles labeled ‘partner content’, then the cost per article was approximately $6,600 – which seems extraordinary.

If Whale Oil had been found to have been paid to post things favourable for National last term, or NZ First this term (they haven’t been as far as I’m aware), I’m sure there would be some jumping up and down in some quarters.

It seems odd to me that IRD would pay substantial amounts of money for online media posts promoting the paying of tax regardless of whether agreements were violated.

1 Comment

  1. David

     /  June 8, 2018

    Smacks of a backdoor payoff at taxpayers expense to keep afloat a far left leaning blog staffed by Arderns dinner party circle.
    I doubt there are many builders/Indian restaurateurs suddenly inspired to pay their fair share of taxes because they follow a chardonnay sipping blog read almost exclusively by people in Grey Linn.