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Ten ways to beat our snowballing debt

Written By: - Date published: 7:22 am, December 9th, 2010 - 69 comments
Categories: economy, john key, leadership, Left, national - Tags: ,

Even Fran O’ Sullivan has been moved to admit (ht: ianmac) that our current Emperor has no clothes:

Speaking frankly, aren’t we all starting to get a bit concerned that the National-led Government seems asleep at the wheel when it comes to dealing with our snow-balling debt?

Speaking frankly, some of us are more than “a bit” concerned, and have been for some time. Anyway, Fran goes on to outline her very own right wing action wish list:

1 – MASTERMIND A REAL TAX SWITCH

Ramp up GST to 20 per cent. Sure it’s regressive…

2 – REVAMP SUPER

Means-test New Zealand Superannuation and move the qualifying age for the able-bodied to 67 by 2017 …

3 – SLASH MOST PUBLIC SECTOR PAY RATES BY AT LEAST 10PC

… Most top state bosses could usefully take a 30 per cent – or more – haircut …

4 – AXE THE MINISTRY OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Let’s face it, the ministry was mainly a sop to Jim Anderton …

5 – INTRODUCE A CAPITAL GAINS TAX AND/OR LAND TAX

… It is quite simply a nonsense to continue to run a system which protects the asset-rich …

6 – MEANS TEST GOVERNMENT GRANTS FOR CREATIVE INDUSTRIES

… Axe all top-up student funding for topics such as “gender studies” and the like …

7 – INCREASES IN TAXES

Savagely increase excise taxes for alcohol and tobacco …

8 – TELL LEN BROWN TO GET THE AUCKLAND COUNCIL TO FUND ITS OWN RAIL INVESTMENTS

… If the council was smart it would simply sell down its Auckland International Airport Holding and/or Ports of Auckland …

9 – BRING IN A BANKING PROFITS LEVY

… Step-up prudential supervision so banks can’t fund another era of excess …

10 – ROLL BACK LABOUR’S ELECTION BRIBES

… Nor can we afford interest-free student loans …

There’s a couple of points I agree with, but not many. I think we need to do better. Much better. So what would a leftie action list look like? What would be items on your top ten list for reducing debt?

69 comments on “Ten ways to beat our snowballing debt”

  1. I’m not against raising GST if, as Fran suggests, its offset by removing it on food,

    revamping Super is OK,

    cutting public sector wages is dumb – drive more talented people out of public service, cut household incomes,

    dismantling MED and putting its parts elsewhere is just fiddling around, pointless tinkering

    capital gains/land tax – yup

    means test government grants – small potatoes and probably more complicated than it first appears. Of course, the first thing you would do is stop subsidising the production of Hollywood movies that are going to make billions in profits.

    increasing excise on alcohol and tobacco is ok but if this is actually about harm reduction then there’s whole lot of other things that need to be done. Old Zet’s written about that.

    we don’t expect councils to fund their own roads (even local roads are funded out of the National Land Transport Fund), why should rail get different treatment?

    Banking profit levies seem good to me, but again, there’s other things – not letting them loan with too low deposits, making them raise more of their money in NZ.

    I don’t see how we can afford not to have interest-free student loans. What is with the rightwing instinct to slash education? It’s madness.

    • r0b 1.1

      I’m surprised by your first point on GST Marty. Tell us a bit more about your reasoning?

      • Marty G 1.1.1

        well, GST is regressive, yes, but if you take it off food and it’s already not on housing then it doesn’t apply to a lot of what low income families are spending their money on. You’re effectively taxing consumption of ‘wants’ rather than ‘needs’, and the regressiveness is probably alleviated.

        I think in general for a country that is heavily indebted to the rest of the world working and earning an income is desirable, whereas consumption is less desirable. So, if you could tax income less by taxing consumption more (and that reduction in income tax didn’t all go to the top end but went on making the income tax system more progressive to counteract the regressiveness of GST) and you weren’t taxing consumption of basic needs, that would encourage a better outcome – more take-home income, more saving, less consumption.

        I was actually going to make GST off food funded by raising it on everything else part of the big tax post the other day – but I thought there was enough to chew on already :)

        • r0b 1.1.1.1

          Cheers Marty.

        • felix 1.1.1.2

          That’s an interesting point Marty, and I get the “needs vs wants” aspect.

          But wouldn’t it also further entrench the growing gap between those who can’t afford “wants” and those who can?

        • prism 1.1.1.3

          There is obviously still a lot of spending money around for nick-nacks for the houses of the stylish people. They are too sophisticated for three ducks on the wall but still what is bought must be huge and affordable to the aspirational middle-class if you see the number of lifestyle/gracious living shops. Charge them higher GST by all means and also higher on toys which are a commodity – society seems to be stacked to the roof with white bears. (Good if the purchase of every one gave a $ to a fund to preserve the real polar ones.)

          Trouble is higher GST means difficulty in keeping a basic household going, the repairs to the machinery, the appearance spending – haircuts, good clothing and shoes, the furnishings that are needed, and the cost of social mixing, travelling to be with family, going anywhere. There are many people who haven’t enough to manage on and credit if available tends to be overused until there is a debt burden. Reports from the Budgeting Service reiterate this.

          • NickS 1.1.1.3.1

            This.

            Higher GST translates to it becoming more expensive to get stuff I need, such as clothing that will stand up to the abuse I dish out, and parts to keep my bike functional and fairly basic recreational stuff such as tramping (gear, food, fuel). A rise up to 20% would be a bigger kick than the rise to 15%, a change which we’ve seen plenty of evidence that is caused significant issues for those on a low to middle income, an increase which Labour really should get up and promise to reverse completely.

        • aj 1.1.1.4

          You’d have to take it of all food, then that brings up the question of restaurants etc. You’d also have to take it off electricity. An essentail for all households.

      • Uroskin 1.1.2

        Why not bring in the areas of economic activity and trading that are currently exempt into the GST regime so the overall rate can be lowered: housing sales, rents, currency trading (Tobin tax) etc.

  2. Don’t worry about debt, as GW said it is just numbers on paper, or pixels.
    As we all know the global economy has gone tits up, the USA is being run like Zimbabwe or 1930s Germany.
    So lets borrow as much as we can, and party party, because we will never have to pay it back.

  3. Herodotus 3

    At least there is a commencement to this discussion, along with the likes ofrom here “The New economy tax” and when I’m 67. Unfortunately no party can stand up to be elected on such platforms as no one will vote for them (I can see nat/Lab etc standing up next year toincrease the age). So we follow a path that is not the best for us. NZ has to take some medicine, by delaying such decisions only leaves us with a increasing difficult time in trasition from the now situation to future. Just like the housing bubble the longer it goes on without correction the bigger the BANG !!
    Also agree with Fran re reversing Labs implimneted policies-bring back interest into student loans, yet from the savings this will provide pump this back into govt assistance in course fees, fund the instutions with this money, resulting in less people being directly dependant upon the govt for handouts, this will also reduce in the amount students will have to borrow
    From Frans’s list tadded to those of Lab and Nat followers there will be some from all camps that would result in a better NZ (And not all will be in common) . there just is no one willing to cherry pick the ideas and have the skills to implement them. And just taking the common widely accepted ideas e.g. exercise tax, property tax is not enough.
    There almost also for me a requirement back to 1st Principles. What is the govts role & why does govts tax?
    But at least this year there is discussion, as a parting comment unfortunately that vast majority will vote depending on self interest.

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      What is the govts role & why does govts tax?

      Which also opens up these questions
      1) What is the appropriate role of the private sector in society?
      2) What is the appropriate role of markets in society?
      3) What is the role of social capital in society vs financial capital vs environmental capital?

  4. ianmac 4

    INTRODUCE A CAPITAL GAINS TAX AND/OR LAND TAX
    That would go down well with dairy farmers if it is true that many are in farming for the capital gains!

    • prism 4.1

      ianmac – Capital gains tax, stamp duty, estate duty, financial turnover tax – let the government get their hands in to monied transactions and out of interest under $100 on savings.

      Jeremy Harris – Good with the smarts. What about something positive that encourages everyone in society to be creative with their skills in making things not just in tax evasion.

    • KJT 4.2

      It would go down well with young people who want to farm land rather than capital gains.

  5. Jeremy Harris 5

    A left wing ten point list for reducing debt, hmm:

    1). Raise taxes
    2). Raise taxes
    3). Raise taxes
    4). Raise taxes
    5). Raise taxes
    6). Raise taxes
    7). Raise taxes
    8). Raise taxes
    9). Raise taxes
    10). Raise taxes

    • ianmac 5.1

      Since dropping taxes has increased our debt and diminished revenue, it makes sense to reverse that trend by increasing taxes. Well done Jeremy. Have a word with Bill.

    • Bunji 5.2

      Good to see you’re not letting stereotypes get in the way.
      Looking at the right wing options of:

      Ramp up GST to 20 per cent. Sure it’s regressive…
      5 – INTRODUCE A CAPITAL GAINS TAX AND/OR LAND TAX
      7 – INCREASES IN TAXES
      9 – BRING IN A BANKING PROFITS LEVY

      I’m not sure how that would distinguish left from right.

      In fact the left would have had a big stimulus and not let us get into such a recessionary hole. The problem is low company tax from unprofitable business in the recession, and low GST take from people not having money to spend… If we weren’t in a recession (and the figures will come out showing we’ve double-dipped), or hadn’t introduced such big tax cuts for the rich, we wouldn’t have a problem…

      • Colonial Viper 5.2.1

        IMO there’s been no double dip, for the real economy and for workers its been one long slide down. You need to have had some significant up turn first for there to have been a double dip.

        Unless you call the plane levelling off briefly before plummeting again a double dip.

    • Colonial Viper 5.3

      Jeremy

      Govt can fund economic down turn deficits by borrowing or by raising taxes. (Key could close deficits through massive Govt cut backs which NAT would love to do and have draft plans for but they won’t dare to scare the horses now).

      If you borrow, you get loaned money from wealthy capital holders which you have to pay all of it back with interest.

      If you take the money from wealthy capital holders (CGT, land tax, estate tax, highest income earners), full stop.

      That’s the difference.

      Then use that tax take and put it into activity which will give ordinary people jobs doing things that we need to get done as a country anyways.

  6. just saying 6

    [ lprent: deleted as per request. ]

    • just saying 6.1

      Why is there no ‘edit’ time since I pushed post in error and was (obviously) not finished?
      Admin, please delete the above. I’m in a hurry and really didn’t have time for this.
      It’s all a bit pointless anyway.

  7. r0b 7

    What struck me about Fran’s list was how grindingly negative it all was. Cut cut cut punish punish punish. Nothing positive, nothing about how sustainable, innovative, green-led growth could make the debt problem disappear in a different way.

    This is why conservatives are useless in government. No vision.

    • Marty G 7.2

      agree with that. If it’s about redirecting the economy, there has to be good to balance the bad.

    • Colonial Viper 7.3

      Is it redirecting the same ship what we need, or starting work on a brand new ship?

    • insider 7.4

      Because it wasn’t presented as an economic vision just ways to address an urgent issue. All of these things are things that can be done relatively quickly with a pen stroke. You are talking about longer term structural changes. The structural changes you want may be impossible if your coutnry is bankrupt. (although it could be argued that bankruptcy might make it easier as it provides a circuit breaking moment)

      • Draco T Bastard 7.4.1

        But wouldn’t it be better just to do the necessary structural changes and redirecting the economy to a sustainable path rather than just fiddling around the edges NACT have been doing and which Fran suggests more of?

        • insider 7.4.1.1

          No reason you can’t do both but I think this is about timing and effect. The issue FoS is wanting addressed is a short term one and her measures are quick fixes. You’re more interested in longer term issues and they take time to address and to see the results. Eg you could immediately change tax rates so that they support ‘sustainable’ industries but it will take a lot longer to have an effect.

  8. me 8

    Legalize cannabis. Save a billion dollars in jail costs. Make a millions in taxes. Make more millions in tourism. Win win win.

  9. Adrian 9

    There is GST on housing , on a section and new first home, say about 350k there is $52,500 of gst therefore we are borrowing from offshore 50k for each house to pay the GSt on a new one of which almost everything is made in NZ. Thats just bloody nuts. Put the GST up another 5% and we just exacerbate the problem. Just on houses at say 25,000 new ones a year at 50k each that’s $1.25 billion borrowed a year from the bloody banks. Theres your first move.

    • Colonial Viper 9.1

      But! If you lessen the amount of interest bearing debt that they can pile onto NZ’ers, where will the banks keep getting their record profits? What are they going to pay their record bonus earning CEOs with? You’re so unfair 😕

  10. Tiger Mountain 10

    Electricity generation and supply should be returned to full public ownership for a start, with minimal compensation to the bludging sector that has been creaming it from what should always have been a public utility.

    A whole lot of potential nationalisation cases, large and small, including SOEs could be looked at, just to really make the righties fill their pants. Outflow of capital to offshore owners in the form of repatriated profits is a major reason for the foreign account deficit over many years, though there were a couple of interesting quarters recently.

  11. SPC 11

    KIWI SAVER

    The first change is to reform Kiwi Saver. The only subsidy that should remain is the $1000 start-up and only for those over 18 who are working. It should simply become compulsory at the 2% rate – and all the money saved should be available for buying a first home, (insulation/energy efficient upgrade of an existing home) and when unemployed at a draw down rate or for study.

    That reduces the deficit by $1Bpa.

    TAX REFORM

    And while I support a reduced tax on interest income (to not tax the inflation proofing component) that has to come from a new source of tax revenue (such as from a CGT).

    GST

    I support a 20% rate GST and a 10% rate for food, rates, medical and education spending and power. Basically 20% on discretionary spending (imports) and 10% on necessities (domestic) – but within the free trade rules system.

    I would exempt new property from GST (to lower new home cost), but add GST to mortgages (the “surcharge” Bollard wanted). Why? Well the higher mortgage cost because of the added GST, the lower the OCR. The lower the OCR the lower the businesss borrowing rate and the lower the dollar value (however this concept works best with a CGT funding a lower tax on interest income and pressure on banks to finance their loans from on-shore).

    Note that even if the home owner paid 20% GST on their mortgage – the may not pay any more than they do now because the OCR funding cost base to banks will be lower.

    Effectively a 20% rate GST on mortgages creates tax revenue/income/wealth out the existing anti-inflation OCR monetary policy settings.

    I suspect that this tax change will lower GST cost for lower income and most middle income families yet raise more tax revenue overall. But I am not sure how much extra revenue would be involved.

    INCOME TAX CHANGE

    Reduce the cost of WFF at the top end – after the recent tax cuts in this income area, this is appropriate.

    TERTIARY EDUCATION

    Interest free loans are a vital part of establishing an incentive to remain here to work – a point of difference to those who leave. This should be extended by having debt written off over 10 years for doctors and nurses and teachers and CRI scientists.

    I would however increase university funding by increasing fees – that means a greater incentive for graduates to stay and not leave, as only those who leave pay the interest on the higher fee debt.

    SUPER

    Apparently we go from 13% to 20% of people on Super by 2030. How much of that extra 7% cost can be met by the growing Cullen Fund (now $18B) is the question. I don’t see how changing Super settings before 2030 will change much unless any savings are placed into the Cullen Fund. Attempts to make savings and using them to manage current budget issues is a smokes and mirrors con played by those who want the money for personal income tax cuts or for spending programmes. Shame on those involved. The serious contributors would want any savings to the current cost of Super placed into the Cullen Fund.

    Sure it can be argued that those in work over 65 are very costly. They receive over $300 a week while working and we pay someone else under 65 $198 a week to remain unemployed (if often lower down the job chain). The best way to get their buy in to change is to place all of the savings made into the Cullen Fund to guarantee their Super when they do leave work.

    I remember advising Anne Hercus back in 1983 to make Super a retirement benefit, she preferred the surtax on rich peoples savings income (as I remember advising Douglas to establish a CGT, he preferred an Assets Tax – but this was the one thing he said he would do in correspondence in 1983 that he later did not and he said a lot then).

    Increasing the age to $373 a week Super is harsh on the poor on UB ($198) IB and SB while in their 50’s and 60’s – even those on the IB by far the most generous receive nearly $100 a week than on Super. It’s also harsh on those who will not live into their 80’s – most Maori and most Polynesians a growing share of our population.

    So I favour work testing Super from age of 65, meaning those who would be on the UB, SB and IB with any age increase do get Super.

    This is fairer and also means those working after age 67 add to the saving made.

    • r0b 11.1

      Some interesting stuff there. Good on you for putting some real effort into the question!

    • Lanthanide 11.2

      “The first change is to reform Kiwi Saver. […] all the money saved should be available […] when unemployed at a draw down rate or for study.”

      Are you suggesting a compulsory, or voluntary draw-down rate from your kiwisaver account if unemployed or wanting to study?

      I definitely think this should not be compulsory, and I’m not even sure if it should be voluntarily allowed if you’re unemployed. The whole point of kiwisaver is to set yourself up for a better future; letting you buy a house with the money is arguably setting you up for a better future, but letting you fund 6 months of unemployment (when you might otherwise have found a job, through desperation, after 4 months) only weakens your long-term outlook because when you get to retirement age there could be significantly less left in your account due to that withdrawal (and losing the compound growth on that money).

      Taking out money to study, or pay back a student loan I could see as acceptable, but there’s the same loophole there for people to simply sign up for a polytech course, take the money but not actually attend. Also becomes problematic with whether you should allow all types of study, or restrict it to useful trades/professions.

      At the moment there are already provisions for taking your money out due to ‘extreme hardship’ and other early-out options, and I think these are probably sufficient.

      • Vicky32 11.2.1

        Lanth, you say “(when you might otherwise have found a job, through desperation, after 4 months) ” which would be all very well, if desperation had anything to do with it! It makes no difference how desperate the unemployed person is – trust me, I know!
        Desperate or not – if jobs don’t exist, the unemployed person can’t find them.
        Deb

      • SPC 11.2.2

        I suggest compulsory Kiwi Saver at the 2% rate for those who work full-time (get the 40 hour minimum wage rate).

        I would support the ability of the unemployed to choose to draw down (over a period of time) their Kiwi Saver account to support them while they are on the UB. Given the end of redundancy packages at least the 2% employer input to the Kiwi Saver is something.

        You are aware that many older workers over 60 on UB SB or IB are unlikely to work before they retire. Some could spend years on $198 a week UB and then on finally reaching age 65 they get $373 a week. They do not need the Kiwi Saver income when 65, but before they get to that age so they are alive and well.

        I doubt that drawing down some of their savings to supplement their UB will mean they are less likely to obtain work if it is available – are you someone who believes that those on benefits need the desperation of poverty to motivate them to work? Is that something you read on Kiwiblog

        • Rob 11.2.2.1

          In the circumstance you mentioned yes it would be beneficial to draw on Kiwisaver. However people leave their jobs multiple times during their life if they drew on Kiwisaver every time there would be little point in the fund as a superannuation vehicle. This could be addressed by allowing people to retire earlier than 65 by claiming Kiwisaver and getting UB level funding with it but that is not really something that should be encouraged.

          • Rob 11.2.2.1.1

            Saying this other countries have mandatory redundancy protection which we could look at. Its not the same thing as Kiwisaver though and you need to look at whether you would really want it in the same scheme together.

  12. Rob 12

    My first two would actually be tax increases:
    1. Introduce Capital Gains at an initially low level and use this funding for point 6
    2. Restore the top tax rate although perhaps to a higher amount say 45% at a much higher level to ensure the government can fund all it needs to and discourage businesses paying high salaries for no reason siphoning money out of our business economy for private spending
    3. Compulsory Kiwisaver to require all people to save for their future
    4. Restart Cullen Fund contributions to make the system less cost intensive later
    5. Reduce the levels of tax on interest of savings to encourage it
    6. Have the government directly invest in the expansion of industry in non-traditional fields (e.g. Kiwibank) to allow them to grow in a more productive manner for NZ. This should in the long term grow the private economy
    7. Encourage local consumption and use of services to grow the domestic economy and reduce spending on imports which sends money out of NZ
    8. Put more effort into increasing tourism to bring more money here
    9. Raise the age of superannuation or move to a requirement of no longer being able to work full time post 65 rather than an automatic entitlement to reduce the cost of the system on government and allow us to maintain a larger active workforce
    10. Make all tertiary education work on a free but bonded system so the only people who gain personal debt for it are those who leave the country after getting their degree

    • insider 12.1

      Some things to think about.

      5. Reduce the levels of tax on interest of savings to encourage it

      Most people’s savings are in their houses but you want to tax them. Why reward the cash rich and penalise those saving in other ways? Isn’t a better way to even out the discrepencies so that no model is favoured so that savings are diverse.

      7. Encourage local consumption and use of services to grow the domestic economy and reduce spending on imports which sends money out of NZ

      Some imports actually reduce our costs. Oil’s a good example. We export high quality $100bbl oil and import lower quality $80 oil. Your system would encourage a national budget loss of $20 (not real numbers just for example)

      8. Put more effort into increasing tourism to bring more money here

      I’d rather put that money into something that earns a lot more and employs people that earn a lot more, eg export of professional services and high value manufactured goods

      10 – Make all tertiary education work on a free but bonded system so the only people who gain personal debt for it are those who leave the country after getting their degree

      How well are we able to pursue those people? Why not just make it free and avoid all the compliance costs? People will go overseas as they have done for generations.

      • Rob 12.1.1

        Good points.

        5. I want to tax houses because prices are going out of control leading to people getting unaffordable mortgages which creates more debt also a capital gains tax would not be a cost to home owners unless they move which they don’t necessarily have to.

        7. That’s because using higher grade goods for a lower grade purpose is a waste of money as with your oil example. At any rate an encouragement to shop locally would for the great majority of sales only affect things like food, clothes and cleaning products which we are perfectly capable of producing for ourself cheaper. Also for such a comparison for what we lose by spending locally is the production cost vs the full retail price of an import minus its taxes rather than simply comparing market value for market value.

        8. That’s fair enough, I would be keen to support those industries too however they are a lot more complex for us to support.

        10. We have extradition treaties with most major economies if people don’t pay while overseas our friendly countries will assist us. If they run off to a random third world country then yes we may have difficulties but the likelihood is they will go to the USA, Australia or the UK. We invest a significant amount of wealth in training people for the New Zealand workforce up till they finish school/university when they go overseas we lose that investment. We spend 18-21 years supporting a dependent to have no capital return from it which is quite simply a bad investment. We should hope to discourage people leaving before they have contributed back an equivalent amount to what we spent on them if we want to build our own economy rather than other peoples.

        • insider 12.1.1.1

          Rob

          5 . are you, me or anyone else able to judge what is and isn’t an appropriate price? As you say people don’t have to move so will be self regulating. Sounds like you want to save people from themselves but maybe they don’t need it. CGT should be on everything relevant not just houses. Otherwise it will distort decision making.

          7. What I meant is that we have some natural advantages and should exploit them. We produce some products that have a high value elsewhere but can be substituted adequately by lower cost products. Why not exploit that opportunity? A focus on local may not be best for the economy.

          10 – I know we have treaties but I wonder how successful they actually are and how much it costs to administer. We also gain from a lot of immigrants with similar or better skills. So it is a trade, and I’d rather their earnings stayed here than were repatriated as loan payments to their home countries.

          • Rob 12.1.1.1.1

            5. Houses are not at an appropriate price in my mind because right now they are over 11 times the average wage when they used to be around 3.5 times it only a few decades ago which indicates the price is around 3 times higher than it should naturally be. Houses should not be used by people as an investment they are something critical to life and rent and houses right now are simply too high in price which creates debt issues. What I mean by people don’t have to move is the fact that there is only cost to people using housing as an investment which is how it should be. I don’t see how it would distort decision making.

            7. I agree we have some natural advantages. These are however a very small part of our economy in general a countries advantages in producing goods comes merely from the fact they invest in infrastructure for them which is what we should be doing rather than important goods. There is for example only one NZ tinned fruit company left which last I heard was planning to close down, you cannot tell me that other countries can tin fruit that much better than us. It is due to market distortions created by wage differences and we should not allow the fact that it is cheaper for the company to allow our economy to shift to a system that is more expensive for the country.

            10. They seem to work fine under the current loan scheme which has a lot of people overseas. We get a lot of that money back. Yes we do get immigrants coming in with high skills too and it could be considered a trade but we want the best deal for ourselves which is maximum number of NZers staying and maximum number of immigrants with skills/cash coming in. As much as you may like immigrants from other countries to not have student debt the fact is they have more expensive university systems than us and that will be happening regardless of what we do to our university system.

      • SPC 12.1.2

        It’s simple enough to enact a CGT that excluded the first $500,000 of occupied primary residence housing – it only takes so much saving to own a 1/4 acre house for a family.

        And it is not right that the component of interest income required to maintain the value of saving (index to inflation) should be taxed.

        • insider 12.1.2.1

          Why is it not right? Shares and dividends go up and down in value but there is no issue of fairness in that, so does property. All are forms of savings. Why is cash somehow different?

          • Rob 12.1.2.1.1

            Bank interest is an encouragement to save rather than invest. Investing carries with it risk people will lose all their money as in the share market.

            • insider 12.1.2.1.1.1

              I’d have thought interest was quite literally a capital gain on an investment. Are you saying there was no risk for all those people that put their savings into interest bearing deposits with the 55 or so finance companies that failed in recent years? ever heard of the BNZ failure of 1990s? Banks have risks attached to them too, in case you hadn’t noticed.

              • SPC

                There is only a capital gain on any investment if it rises in value faster than inflation.

                As for whether saving is an investment, put it this way – banks make their money borrowing money cheap and lending money more expensively. Are they being taxed on their profit doing this, or on their capital gains – capital losses?

                • Colonial Viper

                  Well they are doing it for profit so yeah they are taxed as a company operating for profit.

                  i.e.

                  You can do up and flip houses, sell shares, speculate on the financial markets or serve ice cream cones. If you do it for a business you are taxed as a business.

                • insider

                  SPC

                  My point is interest bearing bank accounts do not merit special tax treatment compared to any other form of income, but that cuts both ways. Currently I suspect it is overtaxed as I’m not aware of the ability to offset costs against the interest gained – instead it is treated as profit. eg companies get taxed on profit not revenue.

                  Rob thinks that interest from savings accounts are special and need different treatment. I can’t understand why compared to money ‘saved’ in a pension fund or other form of appreciating asset. It’s all money and all designed to get some form of return.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    If the country evaluates a fiscal need to increase its domestic savings rate, making bank deposits more attractive – however it is done – is required. That form of savings should be encouraged above and beyond more speculative forms (property developments, finance companies leveraging property developments, etc).

                    A negative or near zero savings rate implies a lot of negative consequences for a country, not least a deteriorating balance of payments, dollar strength hurting our exporters, reliance on interest bearing foreign loans, and encouragement of unsustainable consumerism.

                    I can’t understand why compared to money ‘saved’ in a pension fund or other form of appreciating asset.

                    You mean a pension fund which invests in a hedge fund which invests in AAA rated subprime mortgage based securities?

                    We should not forget so quickly that bond market speculators used peoples pension funds in their games and trashed the retirement of so many people.

                    Literally millions of people in the US now have to keep working or live in near poverty because the twin nest eggs they thought they had (the value of their property and their pension funds) both collapsed around the same time by upwards of 30%.

                    That is why bank deposits have always been regarded as valuable. (And why govt guarantees on more risky forms of investments quite inappropriate).

                • Draco T Bastard

                  As for whether saving is an investment, put it this way – banks make their money borrowing money cheap and lending money more expensively.

                  Actually, banks make their profit by printing money and loaning that out at interest. There’s no way that the amount they have on deposit could return the amount of profit they make.

            • SPC 12.1.2.1.1.2

              Saving funds borrowing from banks for business investment (or investment to own a home).

          • SPC 12.1.2.1.2

            Because insider, when the value of shares and property rises there is no tax applied as there is with the inflation component in the tax on interest income (not until there is a CGT). So equivalence requires a change.

            If there was a CGT, there would not be a problem with a tax on all the interest income. But if asset values were not adjusted for inflation, a CGT could be unfair, thus there is a need for inflation proofing of assets and cash savings before tax is liable under such a reformed system. And only a reformed system provides the revenue to reduce interest income tax revenue.

            A CGT by nature includes all assets excepting those exempted (which usually involves the family home up to a certain value).

            A CGT should allow inflation proofing of the asset over the time it was held before sale – thus say a rental property bought for $100,000 and sold for $500,000 ($1M and $5M for a farm) – if the asset was held for some time, then the value would adjust by inflation and thus reduce the amount of CG assessed for tax purposes. Another variable would be capital improvements (increasing the asset inflation proof cost before the CG was determined).

            Generally businesses either pay CG taxes in their company tax and or the shareholders reap the increased share value resulting from rise in asset values – and the CG would be paid here by the people owning the shares (and receiving the dividends). Imputation etc complicates matters a little – but if shareholders can adjust their CG liability for the inflation component there is no need to do so for dividends.

          • Colonial Viper 12.1.2.1.3

            !

            Putting money into a third or fourth house within a year or two is not savings. You are now investing-speculating (depending on how aggressive your posture is on the activity).

            It is also a form of investing-speculating which is usually leveraged i.e. it requires people to take a mortgage, go into debt, and encourages banks to use hot liquid capital from overseas to fund that mortgage. These increase the fragility of our economic system (when we must make it more resilient) and the latter risks the refueling of an asset bubble.

            So one reason we must stop viewing property as a form of savings is simple: the first move that most people make when buying even their first home is getting into debt up to their eye balls. So what kind of saving scheme is that? Unless property values are rocketing up, all you end up doing is making a loss through interest payments and sending that extra money to Australian banking shareholders.

            LAB has a clear policy stance on this IMO – capital has got to be taken out of the property asset sector. NZ cannot keep pouring its capital into property, and there must be no more property bubbles.

            The upshot of this is that property values will fall/stagnate as capital gets relocated into factories, labs and tech houses.

  13. ianmac 13

    I suppose Fran must get credit for producing a plan given that even she believes “……….the National-led Government seems asleep at the wheel.”
    Grounds for discussion anyway. Forgotten how some of her ideas would match up with the Greens’ plan.

    • insider 13.1

      Was it a plan or just an end of year hotch potch of issues and knee jerks? Is getting rid of MED really a key issue to dealing with debt up there with CGT? Sounds like a few personal gripes were chucked in for the hell of it.

  14. felix 14

    What is it with these fucking tories and raising taxes? They’ve just raised GST to 15% and they’re already talking about 20%.

    Bunch of lying scheming scumbags.

    • Lanthanide 14.1

      I have no problem with raising GST, like Marty iff low-end tax rates are lowered and high-end ones are kept the same.

      • felix 14.1.1

        Forgive me if I seem sceptical about the Key/Hide govt actually doing that to the advantage of poor people Lanth.

        • Rosy 14.1.1.1

          I have a problem with it – because GST appears to be sticky in a downward direction whereas income tax doesn’t seem to have that problem. Lobbying will mean the top-end rates will overtime be lowered to meet the low-end ones. So a regressive taxation regime over a slightly longer period of time.

  15. Well of corse the tax system needs overhauling. High tax for the rich and lower for the less well of and poor.
    However there are other ways of getting money for health and education ;the two main reasons for taxes.
    I would nationalize the casinos .Its disgusting that all or most of our casinos are overseas owned or privately owned.Let the state own and run them with some imput from local bodies. \The Lotto raffle and the other lotto related raffles to be state owned.Pay a decent win but lets channel the profits to education and health.
    What about the slot machines .Let them be run by the local bodies to help pay for well worth projects .
    I know that if we did this the religious and the moral would oppose such a move .My answer to them is how would they raise the money needed to run a democratic fair country. The various tax sytems cerainly need overhauling and tax evasion should be stamped upon .
    Finaly may I say I realise there are downfalls to gambling but man has gambled since the begining of time .

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