National’s tax cut policy

Just when it looked like Labour were comfortably PR managing their way to a comfortable election victory, playing ultra-safe with a minimal policy approach, and National looked to be going through the motions heading for a big defeat, the campaign has been shaken up a bit with a promise of tax cuts for everyone.

National were obviously waiting for the PREFU release (Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Update – economy “better than predicted”) on Thursday, announcing their Economic & Fiscal Plan yesterday, with most attention given to short term tax cuts aimed at stimulating the economy.

This seemed to rattle Labour, with both Jacinda Ardern and Grant Robertson reacting.

Ardern said tax cuts were “irresponsible”:

“What they have announced today is unaffordable and is raiding from a fund that has to be available to make sure that we as a nation can keep responding to the challenges of Covid, not deliver unaffordable tax cuts.

This is a bit rich. Labour have already spent something like $50 billion propping up the economy, and have a $14b fund set aside to dish out as they see fit.

“Now is just not the time for tax cuts and I genuinely believe New Zealanders will look at the environment right now and agree with that.

“What we need now is really careful economic management, we need certainty and we need a plan and that’s what we’ll deliver.”

There’s nothing certain about our short and medium term economic future.

Minister of Finance Grant Robertson:

“It beggars belief that in the middle of a pandemic the National Party is planning to gut the money set aside to protect New Zealanders in case of another major outbreak of Covid-19,” he said in a statement after the announcement.

“We carefully put aside $14 billion to look after New Zealanders’ health and wellbeing and now National wants to put that at risk. This policy reeks of desperation as National races to borrow money to pay for a $4000 temporary tax cut for Judith Collins.”

The responses from Ardern and Robertson reek of rattledness.

National’s announcement.

National will cut taxes for middle New Zealand

National’s massive tax stimulus package will put more than $3000 extra into the pockets of hard-working Kiwis on middle incomes, National Party Leader Judith Collins says.

You can read a copy of National’s Economic & Fiscal Plan here.

Ms Collins has announced the next National Government will let Kiwis keep more of what they earn by lifting the bottom tax threshold from $14,000 to $20,000, the middle threshold from $48,000 to $64,000 and the top threshold from $70,000 to $90,000.

These changes will be in place from December 1, 2020 until March 31, 2022. The total cost of this over the 16-month period is estimated to be $4.7 billion.

“Today we are facing the biggest economic downturn the world has seen since in living memory. But with the right leadership and economic plan we can grow our economy and keep Kiwis in jobs,” Ms Collins says.

“To keep our economy ticking, New Zealanders need money to spend. National will deliver temporary tax relief that puts more than $3000 – or nearly $50 a week – into the back pockets of average earners over the next 16 months.

“This will give Kiwis the confidence to go out and spend, which will be crucial for our retail, tourism and hospitality businesses to survive this economic crisis.

“New Zealand is facing a much longer and more painful economic shock than earlier forecast. We need a serious plan for economic growth to get us back on track.”

National’s Finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith pointed to higher taxes as Labour’s only plan to get New Zealand out of this economic hole.

“No country has ever taxed its way out of a recession – and this is a big one we’re in now.”

As well as tax relief for households, National will double the depreciation rate for businesses that invest in new Plant, Equipment and Machinery over the next twelve months. This will bring forward the amount a business can claim in depreciation for new investments, which will stimulate investment by increasing the return on capital.

Doubling the depreciation rate is expected to cost $430 million a year for five years, while increasing tax revenues in out years.

“Our stimulus package has been fully-funded and costed, and is included in our independently reviewed Economic and Fiscal Plan released today,” Mr Goldsmith says.

“National’s plan carefully balances the need to drive economic stimulus, increase investment in core public services and restore government debt back to prudent levels.

“Labour, on the other hand, has announced it will increase taxes during a recession. The contrasting approaches to the economy at this election could not be clearer.

“Judith Collins and her strong National team will bring the leadership, experience and vision needed to get our country back on track.”

You can read a copy of National’s Economic & Fiscal Plan here.

You can view a copy of National’s Personal Tax Relief Policy here.

You can view a copy of National’s Double Depreciation Rate Policy here.

See RNZ: National promises $4.7bn in tax cuts in economic and tax policy

Obviously this policy would benefit me, by a few thousand dollars. I’m not sure it’s the best approach over the next year or two, but at least it’s reasonably even, it means all tax payers would pay less tax for 16 months (that makes for a messy part taxyear), and every one of us could decide what to do with the extra take home pay.

It does seems a better approach to Labour ‘picking winners’ and ‘corporate welfare’ of dishing out millions of dollars to selected businesses, which puts competing businesses at a disadvantage. I guess they plan to continue to do that with their $14 fund they don’t want given to workers.

Funny to see Labour favouring some corporates while National taking less from workers, that shows how muddled politics is these days.

This announcement is unlikely to swing the election (I’m still very undecided), but going by Labour’s responses it has them a bit worried. At least it livens up a lacklustre campaign.

Working for Families versus tax cuts

Essential income assistance? Or trapping low income workers in a ‘handout cycle?

Working For Families was introduced in New Zealand in the 2004 budget of the Clark/Cullen government. It has been both praised and criticised.

It provides tax credits for families with dependent children aged 18 or under who are not in full employment. There are four types of payments:

  • Family tax credit (FTC) is paid regardless of your source of income.
  • In-work tax credit (IWTC) is an additional payment for families who normally work a minimum number of hours each week for salary and wages.
  • Parental tax credit (PTC) helps with the costs of a new baby for the first ten weeks after your baby’s birth.
  • Minimum family tax credit (MFTC) is paid to families earning up to $26,156 (from 1 April 2018) or less after tax to ensure a minimum family income of $503 a week after tax. To get this payment, at least one parent must be working for salary or wages for a minimum number of hours each week.

It is complex – see the Payment Table.

I’m not sure exactly what this means: “The amounts are based on your eldest child being aged 15 years or under and all other children being aged 12 years or under. If you have older children, you may be able to earn more and still be eligible.”

See also from IRD: Types of Working for Families Tax Credits

In opposition John Key referred to Working for Families as ‘communism by stealth’. However when National got into Government in 2008, faced with the Global Financial Crisis they left Working for Families in place and didn’t look like dumping it in their 9 year tenure. This effectively entrenched it.

A difficulty with stopping Working for Families is that it would substantially reduce the income of low income families, or an equivalent income would have to be provided via alternate benefits or tax cuts.

Talking of tax cuts, one person thinks that tax cuts would be a better solution in I’m trapped in a handout cycle, but I’m not a ‘bludger’.

People called me a ‘bludger’ when I spoke out about how a $16,000 pay rise only left me with $50 a week extra in hand, and how Working for Families has kept me in need of Government support. They were wrong, and most missed the point.

I am grateful for the support I get from the Government. I just wish I never received it in the first place.

The point I wanted to make was this: the Working for Families system is broken because it encourages people not to work or seek a higher income. Tax cuts for everyone in work is a better solution.

People missed the point that I am working more to reduce my reliance on Working for Families. If the system was geared towards incentivising working more, or going for that promotion, everyone would win. But it isn’t and this has the negative effect of subsidising wages for a group of people, holding them down for all workers.

Governments seem to prefer to take money off people via taxes, for most people income tax and consumption tax (GST), and then give money back to some.

Working for Families pays out to families in the middle- to high-income bracket. I will not escape the Working for Families trap until I earn around $120,000 a year, and that is not going to happen any time soon.

One significant criticism is that it gives tax credits to relatively high income earners who have children, while keeping income tax and GST high for other working people (employees or in business).

In the meantime, for every dollar I earn, I lose 70 to 85 cents at the other end.

This reduces incentives to work more or earn more.

With a different tax system and wages at the level they should be, I believe most families – including mine – could support themselves with no additional help from the taxpayer.

I don’t want handouts. They reduce the value of my own work and make me feel as though my family’s income is out of my hands. Unfortunately, I am caught in this cycle. Working for Families is such a large proportion of my income that declining the payouts is not an option.

I mentioned tax cuts as a better alternative as I believe allowing people to keep more of the money they earn will motivate them to improve their own situation rather than relying on the taxpayer.

But there seems little chance of any significant change to tax levels or Working for Families.

In the last election, both of the main parties’ answer to “children in poverty” was Working for Families.

The National Government had put tax cuts in place for this year but with no change to Working for Families, and in any case the Labour led government scrapped the tax cuts.

My vote in the next election will go to the party that is brave enough to say there is a better solution, that will also help people who are struggling but don’t have children.

The Government, following Labour policy, is doing a tax review but it doesn’t look like addressing tax levels and Working for Families credits.

There are some interesting comments too, SarahMC:

I am a single mother working all the hours my children are at school, working through some lunchtimes to do more hours, and also working a couple of evenings. When I’m not working, I am caring for my children. I receive a WFF payment. It bothers me that I work extremely hard but I still need a ‘handout’. I work all the available hours possible, but still feel like I’m a drain on society. It’s psychologically draining.

There is also a cost of adminstration – Jantar:

Redistributing income through supplements and handouts does not just penalise those who want to get ahead, it also wastes a lot of the additional tax take required in administration costs.

This comment doesn’t make sense – NewsRanger:

Ahhhh I think you’ll find your $16,000 pay rise left you $16k better off. It also means the taxpayers of New Zealand are $13,400 better off in not having to subsidise you. That money can now be invested in other New Zealanders in need. You didn’t lose anything, it wasn’t yours to start with.

Pre-tax income was their’s to start with, before the Government took most of it.


Surely Working for families is just a subsidy to the employer. Without it businesses would have to either pay a reasonable wage or succumb to the market forces they always bleat about.

Or ask for more low skilled immigration to work below minimum on the promise of residency. All our leaders seem happy with this answer.

BobbyM repeats a commonly made point about ‘corporate welfare’:

These wage top ups are nothing more than corporate welfare, or a taxpayer subsidy in recognition of minimum pay wage rates, It.s the employers that should be ashamed not the recipients of these payments.

It isn’t just ‘corporates’ that benefit from Government income assistance, many people are employed by small businesses.

I think there’s no doubt that Working for Families takes pressure off low wage employers.

However it makes things difficult for workers stuck in low wage jobs who don’t have children,

Families package praise plus tax nonsense

John Tamihere praises the Families Package that was passed in Parliament just prior to Christmas, but repeats the ignorance or deliberate misrepresentation of the tax cuts that were scrapped in Tax cuts are the wrong approach

When the Labour-led government passed its Families Package Act the week before Christmas, it signalled a culture and direction switch for this country and a beacon of light for thousands of New Zealanders.

The main features of the reforms mean that at a minimum, 384,000 New Zealand families will increase their weekly income by $75. On top of that, there is a $450 energy payment that can be deployed on anything targeted at beneficiaries and superannuates.

A $60 per week best start baby benefit for the first year of a child’s life, extends to three years for low income families. The package is complex, given the amount of individual household variations for different compositions of families. In general terms, households with children with incomes below $60,000 will receive additional payments.

That’s a good thing – for families.

Children, who through no fault of their own are born into low waged and/or beneficiary families, had a brighter Christmas and New Year because of this package.

That’s nonsense. The package was passed in Parliament just prior to Christmas but children are unlikely to be aware of it and it doesn’t take effect for a few months yet.

This Act is significant in itself because it was able to repeal the $8.4 billion worth of tax cuts promised by the National Government. Cuts that would have increased the income of very well-off New Zealanders, not the large numbers of working Kiwis who are on struggle street.

That’s just straight bullshit – a line largely spun by Jacinda Ardern and Labour during and after the election campaign.

For people with the supposed knowledge of how tax works and what the tax cuts would have done this is blatant false information, lying.

Everyone who pays income tax would have benefited from National’s tax cuts, including those on lower and average incomes.

The Families Package benefits families more, or more accurately, households with children up to eighteen years of age.

But it has taken away legislated tax cuts for all those families without children at home or with older children.

Households in Auckland who use cars will pay additional fuel tax, people who smoke tobacco will pay more tax, superannuates will get no tax relief, rates continue to rise around the country.

Low income earners with no children will not benefit – they will be left on struggle street.

The new direction set with the Families Package legislation means we will no longer accept the mantra that tax cuts are good.

I don’t know who Tamihere refers to as ‘we’ – perhaps that’s Labour’s PR department.

He also doesn’t mention that while “very well off New Zealanders” who have children will not now get tax cuts they will benefit from the Families Package.

More money for people with low incomes and with children is fair enough, to an extent.

But Tamihere should be honest about how the re-targeting still benefits many richer people, and it takes away tax cuts from a lot of poorer people.


Slashing corporate tax “a Trillion-Dollar Blunder’

Corporate tax rates and rates of tax for the rich have long been argued about.

In New Zealand major changes in the 1980s were supposed to result in ‘trickle down’ and benefit everyone, with more jobs and more pay. Instead it delivered more profits and more inequality and more hardship for many.

The tax rate argument is raging in the US right now with Donald Trump’s massive tax shift progressing through the Republican led Congress and Senate.

Michael Bloomberg writes: This Tax Bill Is a Trillion-Dollar Blunder

CEOs aren’t waiting on a tax cut to “jump-start the economy” — a favorite phrase of politicians who have never run a company — or to hand out raises. It’s pure fantasy to think that the tax bill will lead to significantly higher wages and growth, as Republicans have promised. Had Congress actually listened to executives, or economists who study these issues carefully, it might have realized that.

Instead, Congress did what it always does: It put politics first. After spending the first nine months of the year trying to jam through a repeal of Obamacare without holding hearings, heeding independent analysis or seeking Democratic input, Republicans took the same approach to tax “reform” — and it shows.

The largest economic challenges we face include a skills crisis that our public schools are not addressing, crumbling infrastructure that imperils our global competitiveness, wage stagnation coupled with growing wealth inequality, and rising deficits that will worsen as more baby boomers retire.

The tax bill does nothing to address these challenges. In fact, it makes each of them worse.

The bill’s cost — $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion — makes it more difficult for taxpayers to afford Medicare and Social Security for the baby boom generation, which is now hitting retirement.

In effect, the tax bill achieves four main things:

  • It takes money away from schools and students.
  • It restricts our ability to invest in infrastructure.
  • It does nothing to boost real wages while making health insurance more expensive.
  • It makes it harder to control the costs of Medicare and Social Security without cutting defense and other spending — or further exploding the deficit.

To what end? To hand corporations big tax cuts they don’t need, while lowering the tax rate paid by those of us in the top bracket, and allowing the wealthy to shelter more of their estates.

Republicans in Congress will have to take responsibility for the bill’s harmful effects, but blame also falls on its cheerleader-in-chief, President Trump.

The tax bill is an economically indefensible blunder that will harm our future. The Republicans in Congress who must surely know it — and who have bucked party leaders before — should vote no.

A harsh critique.


More futility on the tax cuts that won’t be

Parliament kicked off again today with questions to the Prime Minister about the planned reversal of the legislated tax cuts. I don’t think anything much was gained in the exchange, but Bill English made several points amongst the exchanges.

Rt Hon Bill English: So can the Prime Minister confirm that, under the Taxation (Budget Measures: Family Incomes Package) Act 2017, which is currently the law of the land, as supported by National, the Greens, and New Zealand First, a teacher on the average wage would, from 1 April 2018, pay $1,060 less in tax if the current law was to continue in place?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I have already answered that question, but, as I continue to point out in this House, it is a hypothetical question because that law has not come into effect, and it won’t come into effect.

Rt Hon Bill English: Is the Prime Minister aware of just how many families are in a category similar to a teacher on the average wage, who would pay less tax from 1 April 2018 if the current law was allowed to continue?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I’m glad the member raised the effect on families. As we’ve said, we will not be proceeding with fully bringing into effect the tax-cut package that he introduced, because it gives $400 million to the top 10 percent of earners when, in fact, this Government’s priorities, which are different, will see 70 percent of families with children better off—70 percent.

That’s 70% of families with children, not families without children, and not households without children.

Rt Hon Bill English: Is the Prime Minister aware that there are 1.2 million households who do not have children under the age of 18 and, in addition to that, that there are 700,000 superannuitants who would benefit from the reduction in tax that is currently on the law book in this Parliament?

Labour have been trying to divert from those demographics that will not benefit from their planned changes.

Many of them will in fact pay more tax as a percentage of their income as pay rises will increase the proportion of their income taxed at their highest (marginal) rate.

Rt Hon Bill English: Why did her Government decide that money should be taken from a teacher on the average wage and spent on what is now widely regarded as an ineffective policy of providing the first year of tertiary education free for the overwhelming number of young people, who are going to do it anyway?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: First of all, I would say that we have taken nothing away from income tax earners, because they have not received it.

That is a poor way of describing things.

I earn money, and my employer takes money away from me as PAYE tax and ACC Earner Premium, on behalf of the Government.

Under current legislation the Government would take less away from me from 1 April next year.

Under legislation planned by Ardern’s Government more tax will be taken away from me each pay than what is currently legislated.

Perhaps to emphasise her view of how income tax works Ardern repeated herself.

Rt Hon Bill English: Will the Prime Minister answer the question this time, and that is: if it’s unfair for a tax cut that might benefit members of Parliament, why is it fair to remove a tax cut for a teacher on the average wage so that my children can have a much larger subsidy to attend their first of tertiary education?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: First of all, we have removed nothing from those taxpayers.

The Government removes tax from us every pay.

Second of all, I would wager that a number of those teachers would welcome the idea of not having been burdened with student debt by making education more accessible.

And I would wager that a number of teachers would like to pay less income tax so they can pay off their student debt faster, or pay off their mortgages faster, or save more for a deposit to buy a house.

Ardern’s Government plans to take more tax away from many people than English’s government legislated for.

But it’s often futile getting straight questions and straight answers out of politicians,.

Who will reversing the tax cuts affect the most?

The previous (National) government legislated for tax cuts from next April that would benefit everyone earning money, in particular all workers.

Labour campaigned on scrapping these tax cuts, and intend to pass legislation that will reverse them. But they have been quite quiet about it.

In two interviews in the weekend new Minister of Finance Grant Robertson mentioned then just once in passing. On Q+A:

CORIN You will be well aware of the famous winter of discontent or so-called ‘winter of discontent’ – 1999, Labour government that came in. Are you worried that business is going to react badly to you? I mean, what is your message to, I guess, the small business owners, the business people in New Zealand this morning watching? Can you assure them that you’re not going to rip up the rulebook for them?

GRANT Absolutely. I mean, we are a party that’s committed to a partnership here with business, with working people as well. And, yeah, I went to a Mood of the Boardroom event with, you know, 150 CEOs just before the election and heard from them that their biggest concerns about New Zealand were about inequality. They said that we didn’t need tax cuts; we needed to invest in social services. They were worried about multinationals not paying their fair share of tax. They’re the same policies that we’ve got. Now’s the time for us to sit down with the business community and say, ‘How do we make this work together? How do we grow businesses and ensure a fair share in that prosperity?’

CEOs said “we didn’t need tax cuts” – good for them, they probably don’t, but they don’t speak for all workers. It’s curious to see a Labour finance minister taking a justification for a significant policy from big business CEOs on what they think all workers don’t need.

From the interview on The Nation:

Lisa Owen: Minimum wage — you’re going to raise it to 20 bucks an hour by the end of your first term. Are you worried that that’s going to put a handbrake on job creation?

Grant Robertson: No, not at all. When Labour was last in government, we were raising the minimum wage by about a dollar a year during that period. In fact, we had some of the best economic growth and the lowest unemployment that we’ve seen. Bear in mind, the people who will be getting these minimum wage increases will then be spending that money in the economy. It actually stimulates growth.

Lisa Owen: So in terms of paying for that, the Prime Minister’s indicated that there could be some breaks for small businesses, perhaps, to offset the cost of rising wages. But the thing with that is that will lower your tax take, and don’t you need that money?

Grant Robertson: Look, obviously, as Minister of Finance, I’m always keen to see the money that comes in that we can use, but we do have to make sure we’re being fair on small businesses. Australia has this — the idea of potentially a progressive tax rate for small businesses with low turnover. We want to take a look at that and see whether that could work in New Zealand.

Increasing the minimum wage will help low paid workers (if it doesn’t trigger price inflation. And Labour are also considering tax cuts for small businesses.

Jacinda Ardern has also mentioned small business tax breaks – see Ardern considers tax cut for small businesses to offset $20 minimum wage.

Ardern has also said little about reversing the tax cuts. She has said that their first 100 days plan is largely going to happen. This includes:

  • Make the first year of tertiary education or training fees free from January 1, 2018.
  • Increase student allowances and living cost loans by $50 a week from January 1, 2018.
  • Increase the minimum wage to $16.50 an hour, to take effect from 1 April 2018, and introduce legislation to improve fairness in the workplace.
  • Legislate to pass the Families Package, including the Winter Fuel Payment, Best Start and increases to Paid Parental Leave, to take effect from 1 July 2018.

So that will provide more money to students, low wage workers, families and superannuants (Winter Fuel Payment).

From Labour’s Families Package:

Now is not the time for tax cuts. The top 10 percent of income earners get $400 million from National’s tax cut, which is as much as the bottom 60 percent receive combined. So Labour will eliminate National’s tax cuts, saving $1.5 billion a year. Making this choice provides Labour with the opportunity to reduce inequality and boost family incomes.

Families, students, old people, and possibly small businesses will all benefit from Labour’s changes.

There’s a large group of people who will miss out on the currently legislated tax cuts, and will also miss out on handouts from the incoming Government – wage earners who earn more than $20 an hour who don’t have dependant children.

Many ordinary middle New Zealanders will be paying for ” the opportunity to reduce inequality and boost family incomes”. They will do this in a number of ways.

They are already gradually paying higher tax rates due to bracket creep, and that will continue.

If pushing up minimum wages pushes up inflation those not getting more wages will see their costs increasing.

There is also a risk that interest rates will be pushed up – that will impact in middle New Zealanders the most.

The fuel tax will cost Aucklanders more.

And there’s another risk – house prices may drop. Prices have already levelled off in Auckland. The incoming government has plans to dampen property inflation further. This could impact on middle new Zealanders who already own homes (and have mortgages).

During the election campaign Labour kept emphasising the tax cuts ‘the top 10%’ would get in comparison to ‘the bottom 60%’ from the currently legislated changes.

They ignored the other 30%.

Labour will need to be aware of the risks of building resentment by ignoring many middle New Zealanders in their modifications of wealth redistribution. There are a lot of people who will not just miss out, they may end up paying out.

Facts on tax cuts/increases

The tax debate has ramped up a few notches, with National claiming Labour will increase income tax, and Labour claiming that National is lying.

Here are the facts.

Announced in the budget in May: IRD Budget 2017

From 1 April 2018, the $14,000 income tax threshold will increase to $22,000, and the $48,000 threshold to $52,000.

The tax threshold change provides a tax reduction of $10.77 a week to anyone earning more than $22,000 per annum, increasing to $20.38 a week for anyone earning more than $52,000 per annum.

That is clear, legislation has been passed, and unless legislation is changed again those tax cuts for everyone will take effect from 1 April 2018.

Labour:  Fact Check: Income taxes

National loves to scaremonger about tax increases. If you listen to what they say, you’d think Labour was going to tax everything that moves!

They’re wrong. We’ve been very transparent about all of our policies and plans, and we will continue to be so.

We’ve decided to cut through National’s spin. Click on any of the below issues to find out the full story:

Will you raise income taxes?

Jacinda has ruled out income tax increases this election.

Labour: Labour’s Families Package

Now is not the time for tax cuts. The top 10 percent of income earners get $400 million from National’s tax cut, which is as much as the bottom 60 percent receive combined.

Jacinda Ardern, Grant Robertson and other Labour MPs have repeated “the top 10 percent of income earners get $400 million from National’s tax cut” frequently. They don’t mention that all income earners will benefit from the tax cuts.

So Labour will eliminate National’s tax cuts, saving $1.5 billion a year.

From those numbers the ‘bottom 90%’ of income earners will get a total of $1.1 billion in tax cuts per year.

Labour would need to pass legislation that changes the tax rates currently in place to take effect from next April.

The terminology being used is “Labour will eliminate National’s tax cuts” but also “Jacinda has ruled out income tax increases”.

To National – their latest PR on this from Minister of Revenue Judith Collins: Labour would put up income tax for average wage workers

“Labour is simply factually wrong – they would force someone on the average wage to pay $1060 a year more in tax,” Ms Collins says.

“Labour needs to be upfront with New Zealanders. Under Labour income tax is going up.”

Strictly speaking that is inaccurate. Under Labour income tax won’t go down.

So both Labour and National are playing with words.

But, however you phrase it, if Labour get the support of a majority in Parliament to eliminate the tax reductions currently in place the income earners will be taxed more than if National stay in Government and don’t change the legislation.

Under Labour all income earners will pay more tax from next April than they would under National.

I’m not sure that’s something that Labour want income earners to understand and ponder when they decide to vote, so they are unlikely to win this war on words. They have certainly lost a battle by being drawn into debating it.

Election – the money or the bag?

Is the election going to be as simple a few bucks in the hand versus a lot of other people getting more?

Toby Morris portrays it as a simple choice in The money or the bag?

As the parties reveal their priorities for September’s election, voters are starting to see the choices they’re facing.

Labour has released its alternative budget, which would put $17 billion more towards health, education and family incomes over four years.

And the Green Party pledged to raise core benefits and the minimum wage.

Meanwhile, National set out tax cuts in the Budget in May – though it also boosted Working for Families and the accommodation supplement, and put some extra funding towards health, including mental health, and education. Labour would scrap the tax cuts to pay for its programme.


I don’t know that voters will see it as simple as that sort of a choice.

US “massive tax cuts and tax reform”

As promised the Trump administration is proposing “massive tax cuts and tax reform”.

Fox News: Mnuchin vows ‘biggest tax cut’ in US history, confirms plan to slash business rate

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin confirmed Wednesday that the Trump administration aims to lower business tax rates to 15 percent, saying a forthcoming proposal will constitute the “biggest tax cut” for Americans in history.

“This is going to be the biggest tax cut and the largest tax reform in the history of our country,” Mnuchin said, as administration officials prepare to outline Wednesday afternoon what he described as “principles” of their tax plan.

Mnuchin, speaking at a Washington forum, would not reveal many specifics but confirmed that they want to lower the business rate to 15 percent.

“I will confirm that the business tax is going to be 15 percent,” he said. “[Trump] thinks that’s absolutely critical to drive growth.”

He indicated that the rate for small businesses and the corporate tax would both drop to 15 percent. The top small business rate is 39.6 percent; the current corporate tax is 35 percent.

Mnuchin also said the administration wants to “do the whole thing,” and not pursue tax reform piece by piece. Amid concerns that such sweeping tax cuts would significantly reduce revenue for the government, he suggested economic growth will help pay for the plan.

But there is no current plan to increase revenue to make up a massive shortfall.

The plan, though, is likely to run into tough questions from Democrats and some fiscal hawks about the impact on the federal deficit and national debt.

On Tuesday, the official scorekeeper for Congress dealt a blow to the argument that tax cuts pay for themselves.

The nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation said a big cut in corporate taxes, even if temporary, would add to long-term budget deficits. This is a problem for Republicans because it means they would need Democratic support in the Senate to pass a tax overhaul that significantly cuts corporate taxes.

US tax rates are relatively high and that encourages tax avoidance, so they could attract business back into the US.

They hope that the tax cuts will pay for themselves with economic growth – and at the same time want to clamp down on trade. A huge gamble.

How big should tax cuts be?

Bill English made this point several times today: “We’re not putting forward tax cuts as some kind of sugar shock.”

So he is signalling tweaks rather than slashes, to be announced in May’s budget, and indicated to probably take effect in April 2018 (at least it’s not April 2038 like proposed  Super changes).

Is a little bit less tax going to be enough?

From RNZ Tax cuts ‘on the table’ – PM

Guyon Espiner: So you said that their probably will be a point of differentiation, that means there will be tax cuts offered by National.

Bill English: Ah yeah we’ve got tax cuts are on the table, ah we will look at that in the context of these other demands such as the growth in population, the need for infrastructure to support a growing economy,.

Guyon Espiner: So there will be cuts.

Bill English: Well they’re on the table. We go through the process now in the lead up to the budget and the campaign.

Guyon Espiner: Will any tax cuts that you introduce take effect in 2017, or will they only take effect should you win the election?

Bill English: Look most measures that you bring in to do with household incomes would follow the usual cycle which is if they’re announced this year they’d start first of April next year.

But this election year, and it would be odd to commit to tax cuts that may not take effect if National loses power in September.

However it is much tidier implementing income tax changes at the start of the tax year and the May budget will be too late for that.

Guyon Espiner: Ok so no tax cuts taking effect this year, only if you win.

Bill English: Well we would follow the normal cycle.

Guyon Espiner: Ok, John Key had talked about three billion dollars of expenditure needed to make a meaningful tax cut. Is that the sort of ball park that you’re operating in?

Bill English: Look that’s yet to be seen, there’s economic forecasting going on now about how the economy is going to grow, ah there’s these issues around what growth pressures there are right across our public services, the needs for long term infrastructure, the need to get our debt down, so the process we go through is to make sure we’ve got a clear understanding of all those.

I think partly for the reasons that have been discussed and that is people won’t want to see ah surpluses used just on one thing when we’ve got this range of needs to meet.

Guyon Espiner: And you’re looking at lower and middle income earners as your priority?

Bill English: Ah yes, we’ve stated that for quite some time.

Guyon Espiner: lower income, or lower and middle?

Bill English: Well lower and middle income, you know everyone thinks they’re middle income, but I think you’ve got people there who don’t always get support that’s available for lower income households, ah and they want to be able to share in the growth in the economy the same as everyone else.

Guyon Espiner: And you’re talking about those sorts of families getting, you know, north of twenty thirty dollars a week?

Bill English: Well look that’s…

Guyon Espiner: It’s not worth it otherwise is it?

Ten or twenty dollars extra a week would probably be gratefully accepted by many people who are not earning incomes like Espiner.

Bill English: Well you know we’re not putting forward tax cuts as some kind of sugar shot, ah that’s going to…

Guyon Espiner: Why are you doing them then? What’s the rational?

Compensating for the effectively increased tax rates through bracket creep for one thing.

Bill English: Well it’s just over time you’ve got these, if you’ve got a growing economy and surpluses then you can, through a variety of mechanisms support households and lift…

Guyon Espiner: Yeah but they have to be meaningful to lift incomes don’t they, I mean ten bucks a week isn’t going to cut it is it.

Bill English: Well it depends on what sort of household you are, and ah what other changes go on.

Guyon Espiner:  So you can promise that it’s going to be more than that or…

Bill English: No I’m not going to be making any promises today, but there’s, look, people get support from Government through a whole range of mechanisms, last, two or three years ago we did the free doctors visits for under thirteens. That was you know a help to households who had twelve year old children.

Guyon Espiner: So it wraps into this family package that we heard about last year. You’re looking at Working for Families increases potentially as well.

Bill English: Well there’s you know we’ve got these choices…

Guyon Espiner: Thats on the mix?

Bill English: We’ve got a lot of choices here, ah, but it is important that um the ah anything that’s done around household incomes fits alongside meeting these other requirements of a growing economy such as the pressure on public services.

That was mostly a wasted interview.

Espiner tried to push English into committing to a universal lotto win for exeryone as he has no idea what a few dollars difference might mean to people at the bottom of the income pile, but English had no inclination to give away any specifics  about what might be in the budget in two months time.

English didn’t have much to say about it apart from repeat hints of tax cuts so waffled around the issue. The only thing he did was repeat “growing economy” a few times, which seems to be the crux of National’s campaign strategy at this still early stage.