Yesterday Brian Rudman asked why the government wasn’t chasing tax cheats with the same “enthusiasm” with which they were hounding beneficiaries. A dangerous question for the Nats, because it highlights all too clearly their prejudices and priorities. I wonder if that is why we got this hurried little press release later in the day:
Dunne: 1170 tax evasion cases for nearly $200m in two years
Inland Revenue successfully pursued 1170 cases for just short of $200 million in evaded taxes in the two years to June 2012, Revenue Minister Peter Dunne said today.
“I trust these figures will end the bizarre fiction from Labour that the Government is tough on welfare fraud, but soft on tax evasion,” Mr Dunne said.
Oh please. 1170 cases and $200 million is a tiny drop in the bucket. Half of NZ’s “super rich” dodge taxes. Tax cheats are costing the country up to $6 Billion per year (compared to around $39 Million for Welfare cheats).
Dunne’s big-sounding numbers represent only a tiny part of a huge problem. The government will be tough on tax evasion when it starts recovering a significant proportion of that (up to) $6 Billion. They’ll be treating welfare and tax cheats equally when they are treated equally in the courts, and treated equally in the extent to which they are hounded and demonised. Until that time, this government is tough on welfare cheats and soft on tax cheats, and they shouldn’t bother trying to pretend otherwise.