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About that wealth tax

Written By: - Date published: 6:05 am, October 10th, 2020 - 301 comments
Categories: greens, poverty - Tags: , , , , , ,

Really good two minute explainer from the Greens on how the Wealth Tax, that would pay for a Guaranteed Minimum Income, would actually work.

 

The gist:

  • wealth over $1m is taxed at 1% (over $2m at 2%).
  • that’s the wealth left after taking debt into account. eg if you own a house worth $1.2m and you have no mortgage you will pay $2,000/yr
  • it’s per person, so a couple would be taxed only after the first $2m
  • income poor people can defer payment until an asset is sold

That’s straight forwards and sensible. There are some issues to be ironed out, but this is the only thing I am seeing from parties in parliament that attempts to resolve poverty in New Zealand rather than tinkering around the edges while holding the causes in place. The Greens have made addressing income inequality one of their top three priorities*.

There’s still this idea that New Zealand is full of millionaires off the back of the property boom, who are income poor and will be hard hit by the wealth tax. The Greens say their policy would affect 6% of New Zealanders. Here’s where they got the data from,

The model for the net wealth tax is based on a combination of data from Stats NZ’s Household Economic Survey and the Reserve Bank’s Household balance sheet. Stats NZ’s data allows for a breakdown of assets, liabilities,and net wealth by various demographic indicators, however it tends to under-report the total value of net wealth in Aotearoa. The Reserve Bank’s data is an aggregate, so does not allow a breakdown but gives a more accurate overall figure of net wealth.

Shaw pointed out earlier this week that the assets of the wealthiest New Zealanders have been increasing, whereas wage earners are worse off. I found this from Stats NZ,

The net worth of the richest 20 percent of New Zealand households has risen $394,000 since 2015, to reach a median of $1.75 million, Stats NZ said today.

Over the same period, from the year ended June 2015 to the June 2018 year, the net worth of the bottom 40 percent has not increased.

And this,

For most households, the amount of property debt for each dollar of property asset held remained stable or reduced over the three years to June 2018. However, for households in the lowest 20 percent of the net worth distribution, the debt per dollar of asset, specifically for the home they live in, increased from $1.10 of debt to $1.75.

“While the amount of debt a household holds is important, for wealth, it’s the size of the debt in relation to the size of the assets that determines a household’s net worth. Households with the lowest net worth now have more debt per dollar of asset in the house they live in than three years ago,” Mr Attewell said.

 

*For people wanting an environmental Green Party, the other two priorities are climate action and halting the biodiversity crisis, and these can be seen in a range of policies including Farming for the Future, Thriving Oceans, and the Clean Energy Plan.

As always, poverty is seen as a barrier to climate action, and the environmental care is integrated into economic as well as social policy. The full policy platform: Our Green Vision for Aotearoa.

301 comments on “About that wealth tax ”

  1. Ad 1

    Does the state need this new income?

    • weka 1.1

      Labour seem to think so, because they keep saying we can't afford to resolve poverty.

      • Michael 1.1.1

        But Labour is resolutely opposed to a wealth tax so it isn't interested in resolving poverty. It knows it can stay in office by crying crocodile tears over poverty while doing nothing about it.

        • Incognito 1.1.1.1

          But Labour is resolutely opposed to a wealth tax so it isn't interested in resolving poverty.

          Logical fail!

          • weka 1.1.1.1.1

            made sense to me 🙂

            (If not taken literally)

            Lab want to resolve poverty, they're just not willing to take the actions that would make that happen.

            • Incognito 1.1.1.1.1.1

              Labour is timid but that doesn’t mean that they have no interest in the issue, IMO. There’s no easy way and in a week’s time, they may get the largest mandate thinkable under MMP to get on with the job; something about moving 😉

              Michael’s comment was a logical fail if taken literally and disingenuous if not. I have no time for people who like to play silly buggers when we’re trying to have a serious debate on a serious issue.

  2. Andre 2

    This ongoing attempt to link the really good thing of alleviating poverty to implementing the really crap idea of the wealth tax really isn't helping to sell it.

    Whether or not to divert more funds to those with needs is an entirely independent topic to where government funds come from. There is no reasonable linkage between them, unlike say with transport funding paid for by levies on road and fuel users.

    At its most basic level, we the people see the government as an entity with many hands and one big pocket. Some of those hands reach out to take money and put it in the pocket, other hands go into the pocket to take money out and distribute it. Whatever those hands do inside the pocket in terms of little subpockets and moving around within them frankly just looks like those hands are playing pocket billiards.

    That general big picture perception of one big pocket is also why there was never much traction for the plea in defense of the giveaway to the Green School that it was a different account and money source than helping out actual state schools with serious needs.

    • weka 2.1

      not sure what you are arguing there Andre. Are you saying that we already have enough money, we just don't distribute it right?

      If the GP put out a policy saying let's pay a GMI and they didn't cost how it would be paid for, then they'd be rightly laughed at.

      As I said in the post, this is the only thing on the table in parliament that attempts to address poverty rather than tinkering. I can't see how we can not link revenue generation with poverty resolution, because poverty is by its very nature about the lack created in some people's lives from lack of distribution by the rest of us.

      Having an objection to which wealthy people are targeted and how is one thing, but saying that tax take shouldn't be connected to poverty solutions doesn't make any sense. The whole point of the wealth tax is to get people out of poverty, how can they not be linked?

      • froggleblocks 2.1.1

        The point Andre is making is that the Greens’ wealth tax is a colossal stinker of a policy, and trying to make it sexy by saying "it will pay to reduce poverty" does nothing to hide the stench.

        • weka 2.1.1.1

          lol, yes, I get that Andre hates the policy, but his argument that revenue generation shouldn't be attached to govt spending when developing policy doesn't make sense.

          • froggleblocks 2.1.1.1.1

            That wasn't actually his argument.

            • weka 2.1.1.1.1.1

              then please explain it to me, because I already said I don't get what he is saying.

              • froggleblocks

                I already did.

                He never said you shouldn’t develop policies in unison, he said the Greens tying their crappy wealth tax to their laudable welfare policy is not increasing the attractiveness of the wealth tax one iota.

                Coming up with a really shit way to raise money and then saying “but because we have this special pot of money now, we can use it to fund this amazing project” doesn’t lessen the fact that it’s a really shitty way to raise money, and also doesn’t have any bearing on whether you should match spending plans to revenue raising plans. Just that you can’t expect the wholesomeness of spending plans to make your revenue raising plans better.

                • weka

                  ok, if I got this right, the objection is to the tax itself, not to the pairing of the tax and poverty reduction? Which is what I thought. There's nothing wrong with pairing the two policies, it's just that you and Andre don't like the tax.

                  “but because we have this special pot of money now, we can use it to fund this amazing project”

                  This is a fundamental misunderstanding of what they are doing. They're starting with the welfare policy and then figuring out how to pay for it, and the how to pay for it is also designed to do things like limit the housing crisis.

                  Like I said, it's interesting that the people objecting to taxing wealth this way aren't actually offering a viable alternative. The objections I'm seeing appear to be based in wealth protection.

                  • mpledger

                    I think the problem will be that wealthy people will put their money into debt. And the biggest debt in NZ is property. So it will further fuel a property boom. People won't mind paying over the top for property if they get out of paying tax and since the demand is still high (because everyone wants to put their money into debt) then they'll get their money back. The only way it would work is if debt on only the home being lived in counts and no other property.

                    Personally, I prefer the Financial Transaction Tax (aka Robin Hood tax).

                • KJT

                  Taxing the wealthy is a "really shitty way to raise money".

                  The wealthy would say that.

                  However it is what made Western countries prosperous in the past.

                  If you were really concerned about "shitty ways to raise money" you would be objecting to the tax on hard work imposed on middle income earners. Not taxes on wealth gained without working for it.

                  • Grafton Gully

                    I worked for my wealth, never owned a renter and at 76 with a potential $20,000 wealth tax bill pa, low bond and td interest rates, a lower income partner and possible life expectancy 10 years, I am against the Green Party of Aotearoa Wealth Tax. The party has lost my vote this election.

                    • Michael

                      Have you ever voted for it in the past?

                    • Incognito

                      Fair enough. By my calculation, your personal net wealth is about $2.5 million and you’re collecting Super 🙂

                    • KJT

                      I worked hard for my "wealth" to. But as I invested it in a productive businesses, worked in real jobs, including for a time, building houses, not buying and selling existing assetts, educating myself for better jobs, and in savings, not land, I pay tax on all the rise in monetary value. Including that which could be attributed to inflation, BTW.

                      I don’t grudge paying tax, but we need the tax base to be broadened so most of the tax is not paid by those in the middle. It doesn’t help our economy when those who could pay more, don’t.

                      Why should you be "special" because you "invested" in land, not savings.

                      And. You can defer the "wealth tax" until you no longer need it. Unlike tax on savings.

                  • froggleblocks

                    Nothing wrong with taxing the wealthy, the problem is how the Greens are choosing to go about it, with a tax that targets far too large a swathe of people and has got so many gaping holes they arbitrarily reduced their own estimate of how much revenue it would raise by 1/3rd in an attempt to account for the evasion that would go on.

                    A land tax or TOP's proposed property tax are far better wealth taxes, and I support those.

                    • KJT

                      If the Greens had proposed a land tax you would have all been moaning about that to.

                      The real problem is you all say you want to "do something about people in poverty". So long as someone else pays for it.

                      In reality all of us that have more than enough, have to give up a little of the resources we use, so those who are poor can have a little more. Their is no "free lunch".

        • Andre 2.1.1.2

          … trying to make it sexy by saying "it will pay to reduce poverty" does nothing to hide the stench.

          It's worse than that. Some of the stench of the crap wealth tax proposal actually transfers over and attaches itself to the goal we should be trying to achieve of reducing poverty.

      • Andre 2.1.2

        The sensible way to present the independent issues of the spending policy and the money-raising policy is to argue their merits independently.

        Present the poverty reduction policy on its own merits, of which there are plenty. Then when the inevitable show me the money question comes up, point to the tax policy where funding sources are talked about.

        Then in the tax policy, argue the merits of a wealth tax (or CGT or estate or gift or financial transaction tax) on its own merits. Of which there may be plenty in the cases of the other taxes besides the proposed wealth tax.

        All that needs to happen in the big picture is the spending side needs to add up to a reasonable and justifiable number, and the revenue side needs to add up to a reasonable and justifiable number, and any change in government debt from the difference between revenue and spending needs to be a reasonable and justifiable number.

        If anyone can't see that a core government function such as assistance for the needy should be funded from from the general pool of government funds, rather than linked to a specific new funding source, I'm really not sure how better to illustrate it. To me, tying the poverty reduction program to the wealth tax looks like as much of a non-sequitur as, say, tying the poverty reduction program to a new "nitrate runoff into freshwater pollution" levy on farms. They are unrelated functions, joined only by the very generic link of money flowing to and from the government.

        • weka 2.1.2.1

          Are the Greens saying the wealth tax should be ring fenced and only spent on their Poverty Action Plan? As in it gets treated separately from the main tax take?

    • froggleblocks 2.2

      Great analogy.

    • Incognito 2.3

      Yes, Taxpayers’ money is doled out in a lolly scramble to ‘pet projects’ and for ‘hobby horses’. FYI, that “giveaway to the Green School” was meant to be a 75% loan and 25% grant.

  3. Barfly 3

    Would this affect not for profit Incorporated Societies? I belong to a sporting club that has property assets of about $3.5 million – A $40,000 a year wealth tax we would be unable to pay.

    I imagine a lot of Bowls Clubs, Golf Clubs, Rugby Clubs etc would be in the same position.

  4. PsyclingLeft.Always 4

    The "heroes" of Business NZ…

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/118412317/how-nzs-superrich-made-their-money

    NZ billionaires…incl Peter Thiel, New Zealander, Bolt Hole Buyer,(and vampire ?)

    "Investment" heroes !

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_New_Zealanders_by_net_worth

    "The rich don’t really pay that much in tax – and to the extent that they do, it’s because they get the biggest chunk of the income"

    http://www.inequality.org.nz/understand/rich-really-pay-tax/

    "The extent of wealth inequality in supposedly egalitarian New Zealand has been laid bare by figures showing the wealthiest individuals have over NZ$140bn (US$93bn) stashed away in trusts – and overall have nearly 70 times more assets than the typical Kiwi."

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/aug/31/new-zealands-astounding-wealth-gap-challenges-our-fair-go-identity

    How the fark is this ?

    • Andre 4.1

      It comes about because most of the income generated by capital comes in the form of capital gains. In New Zealand, capital gains are completely untaxed (except in very specific easy to avoid circumstances). In just about every other OECD or trading partner country, capital gains are taxed.

      Here in NZ, we also don't have gift or estate taxes. Gifts and estates are a major means of intergenerational wealth transfer, which serve to maintain and even increase inequality.

      Instead of going our own way and coming up with a really ill-conceived wealth tax with damaging unintended effects, our much better path forward is to align ourselves with other countries in our peer group and implement capital gains taxes and gift taxes and estate taxes.

      • PsyclingLeft.Always 4.1.1

        Well you seem to know quite a lot about that. (more than me…: ) Its just that for far too long..there has been plenty of TALK about NZ's rising Inequality…but where are we? (and no I DONT want to grab Kiwis hard earned money…fark knows Ive also had to earn the Hard Won dollars too : )

        • Andre 4.1.1.1

          Some other ways we here in NZ go easy on the wealthy is we generally tax unearned income at lower rates than earned income. We have structures such as the Portfolio Investment Entities investment funds, which have their own tax rates – the top PIE rate is 28%, instead of the 33% top personal income rate. (Most Kiwisaver funds are PIEs)

          In NZ, we also effectively only tax dividends to shareholders once, by individual taxpayers full tax credit on the company tax paid. In the US, company taxes are paid on the company profits, then the shareholders pay individual income tax on the dividends. I think Australia is the same as us, dunno about other countries.

          • PsyclingLeft.Always 4.1.1.1.1

            Ah thanks for reply. Seems as per my links, always the "elite" 1% ers evade . Ah well off to work ….. Have a good one an I'll check updated later…

            • Pi 4.1.1.1.1.1

              There is no evasion here. Companies pay income tax on company profit at 28%, so that income has already been taxed.

              Also, shareholders who are on a 33% marginal tax rate must pay an additional 5% resident withholding tax – so you can't reduce your effective marginal tax rate simply by investing in shares of a tax paying company.

          • mikesh 4.1.1.1.2

            It is generally considered equitable to tax all income at the same rate, making allowances only for income differences, where different rates may apply. For company income to be taxed twice, once at 28% in the hands of the company, and once at 33% in the hands of the dividend recipient, making a totl of 61%.

            • Draco T Bastard 4.1.1.1.2.1

              A company should not be paying tax. That's what the tax right-offs on business expenses are for. After the expenses are paid for everything left over should be paid out to the shareholders and taxed at the applicable PAYE rate taking into account all income from NZ.

              Should.

              Of course, the laws have been written in such a way so that shareholders can dodge paying taxes through trusts and other loopholes. This seems to have been done on purpose and the politicians don't want to fix it.

              In other words, no special rates for dividends or capital gains (yes, capital gains should be classified as income). Have an income in NZ then it should be taxed at PAYE rates – same as everyone else.

              As I say, we really need to design a new tax system from the ground up ignoring everything that's gone before as everything that's gone before is simply wrong and not fit for purpose.

              • Craig H

                When the money eventually reaches the NZ tax resident shareholders, tax is paid by them at the applicable PAYE rate with imputation credits for the tax already paid. Until then, it's a 28% withholding tax, which for some people should have been 30% or 33%, and others a mix of rates depending on their level of dividend income and other sources e.g. superannuitants topping that up with dividends would typically pay 17.5% on the dividends.

                For everyone else, they effectively pay a flat rate of 28% which is higher than it would normally be for that level of NZ income unless they are receiving enormous levels of dividends (just under $150,000 – I doubt that's common for people who aren't NZ tax residents).

              • mikesh

                A company should not be paying tax. That's what the tax right-offs on business expenses are for. After the expenses are paid for everything left over should be paid out to the shareholders and taxed at the applicable PAYE rate taking into account all income from NZ.

                This is something I have always believed myself.

              • Pi

                "Of course, the laws have been written in such a way so that shareholders can dodge paying taxes through trusts and other loopholes. This seems to have been done on purpose and the politicians don't want to fix it."

                This is incorrect. NZ has a widely admired income tax system with very few deductions and, due to its simplicity, it is very difficult to evade.

                You may consider that capital should be taxed as income, but that is a separate point to (incorrectly) alleging that there are widespread loopholes in respect of income tax.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  Can you explain the $7 billion dollar hole then?

                  All income, no matter the source, should be taxed as income and not put in special brackets that can be used to dodge paying taxes.

                  Perhaps the reason why our tax system is internationally admired is because it allows people to dodge paying the taxes that they should be paying.

            • Herodotus 4.1.1.1.2.2

              Your figures are not quite correct. You are taxing 72% at 33% individual tax = 24% so the "Total" tax rate from Pretax company to after tax to the individual is 52% and not 61%

      • RobbieWgtn 4.1.2

        NZ had intergenerational wealth taxes eg death duties & other ticket clipping rorts eg stamp duties for around 100 years, many people forget that getting rid of these socialist envy taxes was the original political quid pro quo for the introduction of GST.

        NZ also has had a CGT for decades, consistent enforcement has been the issue however recent introduction & strengthening of the residential housing bright line test has helped.

        What the socialists hypocritically choose to ignore is that all taxes that support all central & local govt public spending ultimately derive from private profits – someone has to create the pie before it gets divided

        • Andre 4.1.2.1

          Yes, New Zealand has nominally had capital gains tax since … well before I had any interest in taxes.

          But it's one that has always been easily avoided by the simple expedient of placing one's hand over one's heart and saying "Mr Taxman, when I purchased this asset my sole interest was the rental income (or dividend income, or to live in the house or…), and the thought of making a profit from an increase in value at some future sale time never occurred to me".

          Which of course is an obvious lie for everyone that's ever been negatively geared.

          I feel the need to point out that a lot of private profit is a direct result of government adding value. Whether it's innovation directly produced in government research institutes or government supported labs, or increased property values directly resulting from improved transport links and other infrastructure, or even just government supplying enforcement mechanisms for things such as intellectual property rights.

          • mikesh 4.1.2.1.1

            I have always thought that IRD make too much of Their notion of "intention". I think that the basis on what a person does, rather than on the intention behind what he does; or what IRD deems that intention to have. "Intention" seems to give rise to too many anomalies.

            As far as improvements to property due to the installation of ambient infrastructure, which bring about increases in property values, are concerned, that is where the levying of a land tax would come in handy, since these chages would usually be reflected in increases in the value of land.

            • Craig H 4.1.2.1.1.1

              I agree that it's unlikely that someone who buys a rental property with a 3% yield is not in it for capital gains on some level, but IRD have to follow case law on the subject which constrains them.

              • mikesh

                Perhaps some government should remedy the problem with an appropriate statute, or an appropriate amendment to a statute where applicable.

        • aom 4.1.2.2

          It seems you might find your 'socialist envy taxes' well and truly predate socialist governments in NZ. It is also suggested that your argument regarding taxes coming only from private profit have the same same level of credibility, or can you can provide evidence that capitalists don't share in the 'common good', either directly or indirectly, and that socialists and wage earners don't pay taxes.

        • Gabby 4.1.2.3

          That's some quid there, swapping a socialist envy tax for a leeching parasite capitalist poverty tax. Quids pro pluto more like.

        • Draco T Bastard 4.1.2.4

          What the socialists hypocritically choose to ignore is that all taxes that support all central & local govt public spending ultimately derive from private profits – someone has to create the pie before it gets divided

          And this is the normal lie from the right-wing.

          Profits in the private sector are, themselves, a direct result of government spending.

          The First Cause in finances isn't private profit but the government creating the money to be spent which can then be gathered as profits.

          the original political quid pro quo for the introduction of GST.

          Ah, yes, the stop taxing the rich and tax the poor more quid pro quo that inevitably increased poverty in NZ.

        • KJT 4.1.2.5

          Rubbish.

          Taxes on unearned gains are an essential part of a functioning country. Nothing to do with envy.

          They are gains in wealth, on the rise in asset values enabled by the infrastructure we provide. Not, profits. Which are already taxed.

          Everyone who works contributes to the economy. Paid or unpaid. It doesn't come from private profits. It comes from work. Are you another one who holds the fantasy that a Teacher, Road builder or Doctor working for the State is a drag on the economy, and only contribute to it if/when they work privately for a "for profit" company. FIFY.

          BTW. I'm one of the people who would be paying more. So. hardly envy on my part.

      • solkta 4.1.3

        So since you are so in favour of a CGT why do we not see you bleating about Labour tax policy? The Greens would still support, and would have campaigned on, a CGT but Ardern has ruled it out.

        • Andre 4.1.3.1

          Because it appears to me the harmful unintended consequences of the crap design of the proposed wealth tax are significantly worse than the harms of not having a capital gains tax.

          Then, at some future date when a government is prepared to consider doing the better thing and introduce a capital gains tax, it will probably be harder to do if there is already a wealth tax structure bedded in place.

          • weka 4.1.3.1.1

            I doubt that's how this would play out. If the Greens had enough negotiating power and Labour were on board ideologically with addressing root causes of poverty, then I'm confident that between the two of them they could come up with a really good policy set.

            But Lab have ruled out a CGT as long as Ardern is in power, so what are poor people supposed to do? Off they trot until some vague time in the future when Labour might change its mind?

            One of the great values in the GP policy is that it puts the real stuff on the table to be talked about. In this case, it's what is fair, and should some of us be accruing great wealth while others don't have enough to eat. That conversation is long overdue. Whatever happens with this policy, the Greens are saying, like they did in 2017, we cannot afford to wait on this any longer.

            Like I said in the post, there's nothing else on offer. So interesting to me that most of the arguments against the policy don't offer and alternative. Off you trot poor people, we don't really want to solve this societal problem.

            • froggleblocks 4.1.3.1.1.1

              Like I said in the post, there's nothing else on offer.

              TOP have a credible policy that they would use to fund a UBI. They're not polling that much lower than the Greens.

              • Draco T Bastard

                TOP's wealth tax isn't that much different from the Greens.

                • mikesh

                  TOP is not intending to tax wealth, but only quasi income. TOP is pointing out, for example, that rent saved from living in one's own house is comparable to receiving income, and that therefore that income should be taxed.

                  This different from a wealth tax. TOP is not intending to exempt persons whose "wealth is less than $1,000,000.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    Admittedly, its been awhile since I've read it but as I understood it they were saying that an asset should have an income and that income needed to be taxed.

                    From this they were going to treat all assets as if they had an income of 6% of their value. Which, once taxed at the company rate, was going to equate to 2% of total value.

                    • mikesh

                      They rates they are proposing now 3% of equity, and 33 cents/dollar tax. This equates to 0.99% of equity.

                • froggleblocks

                  It's quite different, since it only applies to property, not all assets worth $50k or more, which includes company shares (great disincentive for building a productive business – exactly what this country does not need).

                  It's also assuming a 3% return on equity and taxing that at 33%, so a 1% tax on the equity. The key difference here is if you are already paying tax on rental income for a rental property, then you are not likely to pay any additional tax under TOP's policy. Farms under TOP's policy would not likely pay additional tax, or only a little – for farms in particular where returns can vary from year to year they propose a 5-year levelling system.

                  Under the Greens' policy if you have enough assets in rental property or farms (and it doesn't take much to reach $1M in assets) would have you paying tax, and that's on top of their new 37% and 42% tax brackets too whereas TOP has a 33% flat tax rate with the UBI meaning that most households would be better off overall, even if they did end up paying some property tax.

                  TOP's policy because of its narrower focus, and use of council valuations for properties, is harder to rort and much much easier to administer, meaning it's more efficient, even if it does raise less money in total.

                  • The Al1en

                    Top's policy is shit, and would have me paying $2600 per year on top of $3600 rates on a small town $260,000 property I own freehold on a laid off because of covid $250pw income, when the last place I owned was less than $2000 rates in a city with an $85k mortgage on a market value home worth $390k.

                    Comparing that to someone with multi million assets, it’s arse about face. Best they stick to culling cats and leave the money talk to the pros.

                    • froggleblocks

                      So what you're saying is, under TOP's policies you'd pay $2,600 year extra in tax but would be receiving $13,000 per year UBI, so you'd be better off by $10,400 annually compared to the status quo, assuming you have 0 income at present and don't qualify for a benefit (quite possible).

                      You'd also have 0 additional rebate on that money if you were to find a part time job, unlike the status quo (or Greens policy) if you were on a benefit.

                      Yeah, sounds terrible.

                    • The Al1en

                      Yeah, the Top policy is shit because it doesn't take into account incomes or circumstances, and it's ignorant that a capital gain isn't a capital gain until it's realised in a sale.

                      For someone who loses a job, or get's sick, that 250pw is already their income, so no extra 13k per year or 10.4k 'bonus' for them, just another bill to pay so they can ensure higher earners get a ubi. That's just dopey.

                    • mikesh

                      and it's ignorant that a capital gain isn't a capital gain until it's realised in a sale.

                      This is not true. Capital gains exist prior to realization. This is one of the problems with capital gains taxes, which are too selective to be fair since they tax realized gains while leaving unrealized gains untouched.

                      [Deleted this text from user name: “and it\’s ignorant that a capital gain isn\’t a capital gain until it\’s realised in a sale.”]

                    • The Al1en

                      There's no way I can profit from capital gains unless I borrow against the equity in my house or sell up and get a lump sum, so it's stupid to tax something I can't access.

                    • froggleblocks

                      A lot of people aren't eligible for a benefit so if they lose their job or get sick they presently get 0. Under TOP's policy they'd get $13k PA.

                      Stay at home partners for the most part get $0, under TOP's policy they'd get $13k PA.

                      'Higher earners' only benefit by about $3k PA due to the UBI, and most of them are going to end up paying more in tax due to the property tax as well.

                      So your characterization of the policy is very biased.

                    • The Al1en

                      Would someone with a million dollar house and an 800k mortgage pay less in top's property tax than me?

                      The policy wouldn't take into account my ability to pay a tax, along with the very high rates I pay living in a small town, and the 250pw ubi is already the same as my weekly income – The guff about people like me being better off is nonsense.

                      Thank the stars labour, the greens and 98% of voters won’t have a bar of it.

                      Also a question for you @19.1.1.1

                    • froggleblocks

                      and the 250pw ubi is already the same as my weekly incom

                      Assuming that's $250/week after tax, your annual income is ~$14,800. You currently pay $1,815.72 in income tax.

                      Under TOP's 33% flat income tax you would instead pay $4,884 in income tax, receive $13,000 in tax-free UBI and pay $2,600 in property tax.

                      You would be $7,331 better off annually under TOP's policy than the status quo ($20,316 after-tax income vs current $12,984), that's about twice your current rates bill.

                      Yeah, sounds like a good idea to vote against a policy that would give you $7,300 in your pocket each year.

                    • The Al1en

                      So I currently get $14,800 and pay $1,815 in tax with no property tax

                      Or I could get $13,000 and pay $4,884 in tax with a $2,600 property tax bill.

                      Where do you get $20,316 after-tax income vs current $12,984 from?

                    • froggleblocks

                      I assume you are in paid employment earning $14,800 per year. In which case you receive $13k in UBI on top of your current earnings.

                      If you’re not earning $14,800 in paid employment and this is instead a government benefit, then under TOP’s policy you would get $13k per annum tax-free, although you would have $2,600 property tax. However the maximum that would be deducted from any part time work you engaged in would be 33 cents in the dollar, unlike the current scenario where abatement rates can rise to ~82 cents in the dollar.

                      If you are currently on a benefit then you also wouldn’t have to jump through any hoops to continue getting the $13K UBI like you likely do right now to receive the benefit you’re on. So you’d have much less stress in your life, likely less expenses from chasing appointments and collecting documents, and more time to put towards upskilling, volunteering or finding employment.

                    • The Al1en

                      I believe the top's website say the ubi replaces benefits.

                      https://www.top.org.nz/universal_basic_income
                      A UBI would be paid to all New Zealand citizens and permanent residents over the age of 18. It replaces all benefits of a lesser value (e.g. Supported Living Payments and the Jobseeker benefit).

                    • froggleblocks

                      Yes, it does say that, however at no point have you explicitly said you receive a benefit, only that you receive $250 per week in income. Assuming this is from paid employment, you would be ~$7,300 better off PA under TOP's policy.

                      If it's from a benefit, then the rest of the content in my previous comment applies.

                    • The Al1en

                      however at no point have you explicitly said you receive a benefit

                      Apart from

                      "I own freehold on a laid off because of covid $250pw income"

                      "For someone who loses a job, or get's sick, that 250pw is already their income"

                      So under Top's policy I'd be worse off.

                      Yeah, sounds like a good idea to vote against a policy that would give you less in your pocket each year.

                    • froggleblocks

                      Yip, people in your position would have less money in your pocket. But the UBI opens up a lot of freedom for you in how you live your life, compared to having to scrape and bow to WINZ's demands as you do at present.

                    • The Al1en

                      So in effect I would, in the lowest possible income bracket, be paying $50pw just to get a free ride from winz and at the same time be supplementing high earners, and even though I'd be out of pocket and thrust into poverty by a policy that doesn't recognise sick people (for example), be better off because of it.

                      That’s a great policy on a left leaning website.

                    • froggleblocks

                      It's likely that people in your position would actually be able to defer the tax, much as superannuitants can.

            • Alan 4.1.3.1.1.2

              off you trot to training and employment poor people, there, solved it for you.

              • weka

                there are 100,000 people in NZ unable to work due to illness or disability. More if we count solo parents with young kids, and people caught up in the married rate fiasco. We also have a permanent unemployment rate because of how the economy is run.

                Work doesn't set everyone free.

                • Alan

                  completely agree that we should have a welfare system that supports the genuine needy, but have spent much time in the far north and see inter generational welfare lifestyles embraced by perfectly fit and capable people

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    The problem there is that government has failed to develop Northland.

                    And, no, I'm not talking roads.

                    • Alan

                      Individuals do not need to rely on the government to get somewhere in life. It is not "the governments fault".

                    • KJT

                      It is the Governments fault. Since the 80's they have deliberately followed policies of maintaining a percentage of unemployment, to depress wages and make for more "flexible" work conditions.

                      Employers and others who have benefited from the "surplus labour pool" especially employers of casualised on demand labour, such as cleaning, fruit growing and labour hire companies. Should be taxed, for every underpaid worker, to pay for it.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      Yes, it is the government's fault for dropping full employment and development in favour of the selfish, greedy arseholes promising to to do it better and then not doing it at all.

                  • KJT

                    300 school leavers chasing 3 available apprenticeships.

                    Hardly easy for those "fit and capable people" to get jobs.

                    Then there is getting sacked on day 89, mostly casual jobs with no regular income, stand down periods and many other similar very good reasons.

                    Noting that wages and job availability in Northland has had a marked rise, since the supply of back packers, overseas student and slave labour has dried up. Seen kids that couldn't get a job for years doing OK, now.

                  • Stuart Munro

                    It is not "the governments fault".

                    Quite often it is the government's fault. The folk who used to work at Solid Energy who lost their jobs to Bill English's epic incompetence have the government to thank for it. The Wellington bus drivers, sacked by a council so they could be illegally replaced with even cheaper unskilled migrants, have the government to thank for that.

                    We know of course that governments view the dark spectre of accountability with the same kind of visceral horror ordinary citizens reserve for child abuse or anthropophagy – they refuse to speak of it, and hope it will go away.

                  • weka

                    thinking about someone who can't walk but is otherwise fit and healthy compared to a tetraplegic. It's not hard to understand.

                    For the people in the grey area, WINZ (and govt policy) puts many barriers in the way of disabled people and part time work.

                    I don't think that Hawkins was ever living in poverty, and he had support to manage his disability. If NZ were willing to do that for every disabled person (make sure they have adequate financial, social, physical, educational etc support) then we would have a very different situation.

                    The GP policy is an attempt to offer a beginning of that, namely taking large numbers of disabled people out of the societally enforced poverty they currently live in.

                  • Incognito

                    Some people keep working well into their eighties, why not others, why not everybody?

                    The world is not simply black or white.

            • mikesh 4.1.3.1.1.3

              so what are poor people supposed to do?

              I don't see how the realization of a capital gain affects poor people. The only two persons affected are the seller of the property, and the buyer, and the latter is prepared to pay for the capital gain. Nobody else is affected.

              • KJT

                Oh. Except for the poor people who can't afford houses.

                Because investors chasing tax free capital gains have pushed the prices up.

                Not to mention those of us who do pay taxes, are paying more to support the people who have to pay to rent those houses. Paying the owners mortgage.

                Personally I would rather my taxes went on health, housing, education, and peoples futures. Than subsidising house prices.

                • mikesh

                  The problem seems to be rises in the (perceived) value of houses. The answer would seem to be to build more houses, but that can't happen overnight. Overseas experience suggests that capital gains taxes, for example, would not slow those increases.

                  • weka

                    which is why I think the reliance on a CGT that some seem to have is a fail. Maybe it's useful alongside other things, but it seems to be treated as a silver bullet. The housing market is so out of control and people are making so much money from it, a CGT might slow that a bit, but it's not going to really do much about the housing crisis. And the family home is exempt which is where lots of people are making money.

                    Building more houses won't remedy poverty or the housing crisis unless it's public housing or similar that isn't going to be bought and sold. Building houses for the property market will just throw petrol on the fire.

                    The realisation of capital affects poor people in a number of ways. They can't afford to buy, they can't afford to rent, they end up living in cars and so on. That we don't tax that realisation affects poor people because as a country we pretend we can't afford for everyone to have a decent standard of living.

                    • Stuart Munro

                      It's not a silver bullet – but while NZ lacks a CGT we will not attract the kind of investment that creates wealth, or respects the environment for that matter.

                      Until we normalize our tax regime we will disproportionately attract vulture capitalists, slumlords, and criminal proceeds launderers. Such folk are not the entrepreneurs of halcion Rogergnomic fantansies, they are chancers one step ahead of the bailiffs and fraud convictions, the kind of folk who fund Billy TK.

                    • Craig H

                      Personally, I think more state houses is the best answer, and is what Kiwibuild should have been – 100,000 new state houses would do a lot for the issue.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    The problem seems to be rises in the (perceived) value of houses.

                    There's more than one issue which is why the apparently simple solution won't work:

                    1. Foreign buyers: It may not be a lot but its enough to push apparent demand above where it should be. The present government has made it so that foreign buyers must build new but its still too soon to say what effect that will have. Still, it will keep land prices high.
                    2. People buying multiple homes for a retirement income with excessive money to hand which will feed on to the next
                    3. The private banks creating money to buy houses. As long as house prices are rising then the banks are going to be willing to create more money on housing. In other words, the hyperinflation of printing money without restriction is happening but most people like it because they feel richer because of it and the government likes it because it feeds the economy money without it (apparently) coming from them and so they can keep the deficit down.

                    Rebalancing of the economy is going to take effort and a lot of people are going to be poorer afterwards.

                  • KJT

                    We don't have the counterfactual from overseas as to how much the rise in house prices would have been without CGT. It may have been much faster if they didn't have it.

                    Of course immigration, foreign "investors", home grown tax free capital gains chasers, and cheap labour imports requiring accommadation, are also part of the price and rent pressures, in combination with lack of supply.

                    All need to be addressed.

            • Nic the NZer 4.1.3.1.1.4

              That is a pretty rough deal for the NZ poor as this and a CG tax do nothing for them. The notion that wealth taxes are a helpful measure to the lower class should be abandoned because its a crock.

              Tax changes should not be prioratised over other positive ecomomic reforms by the Green party.

              • weka

                how does giving poor people better income not help them?

                • Nic the NZer

                  As can be observed its the tax parts which are getting all the focus. But if that cant be negotiated then getting the GMI part through should be the priority.

                  The government had never needed to collect tax to guarantee income. Things are not connected in that way.

                  • weka

                    how would the govt pay for a GMI? Welfare is utterly connected to govt income.

                    • Nic the NZer

                      This is not true. Just this year the government paid billions of dollers in income during the lockdown. Obviously its just a question of how worthy the expenditure is deemed.

                    • weka

                      I wish you would explain what you are meaning. Shall I guess that you mean that Labour could print more money, borrow more, or use existing money better? Sure, good luck with getting Labour to do that.

                      Your argument is abstract, worth having, but doesn't provide us with immediate political solutions (eg for the next term, or post election negotiations).

                    • Nic the NZer []

                      In fact it would just be that the government included the GMI policy in the budget, and so those measures are funded.

                      As a result there *might* be a larger deficit. But its important to note that most of the budget is forecasts with uncertainty including the tax take, expendature relating to unemployment and so on. Its also possible that a GMI causes a fall in the budget deficit. Obviously such a hard to forecast system can only operate if there is a allowance for error and has evolved to disipate most financial constraints as a result. For all the seriousness with which Grant Robertsons budget statements are taken, in practice he could not bankrupt the treasury if he was trying. If we place GMI in the same category as the wage subsidy then we can see that the government can conjure up that funding even if its completely un-budgeted as it needs (and most was borrowed from the RBNZ via QE in that case).

                      If the Greens negotiate over this tax however then a likely scenario seems to be that Labour 'compromise' and agree to a CGT (which they claim the Greens made them do) and the GMI policy just never happens.

                    • weka

                      thanks, interesting. Think lots of people react to the Wealth Tax as if it's in a final form and Labour would have to agree to it as a whole. I see it more that both Lab and the GP would come up with a system that works across a range of things they are negotiating. I like the idea of consultation as I think some of the impact on business hasn't been fully explained.

                      If you are saying that the GMI could be implemented no matter the cost, it still hits too ideological barriers for Labour. One is their work solves all ills position. And two is that they don't believe there is a magic money tree despite having just harvested from it.

          • KJT 4.1.3.1.2

            It will probably be easier as people come to realise a CGT would have been better.

          • Craig H 4.1.3.1.3

            CGT is crap – it complicates the tax system substantially, raises stuff all, and the inherent issue of people trading houses for profit isn't stymied by it since flippers already pay income tax on the gains on sale, and arguably the problem is the profit on trading houses in the first place, not the tax on it.

      • froggleblocks 4.1.4

        What're your thoughts about TOP's 'property tax'?

        Or a land tax?

        • mikesh 4.1.4.1

          The chief advantage of TOP's property tax is that it's fair inasmuch as it applies to all domestic property, not just rentals. It is also rational inasmuch as it taxes a real benefit, ie the rent saved by a home owner living in his own home. Its universality may also have some lowering effect on house values, unlike taxes which avoid family homes, or which are worth less than,say, $1,000,000.

          Incidentally, it doesn't affect landlords if the return on their property is 3% or more per annum, since they would be paying tax on that return anyway in the normal course of events.

          A land tax would promote a more efficient use of land,and, incidentally, pick up, and tax automatically, any capital gains on land. However, it would also be preferable if it were levied universally as well.

        • Andre 4.1.4.2

          I haven't looked into TOP's proposal this time around, because the chances of it getting implemented are indistinguishable from zero. But last time around, I really didn't like it.

          It gets levied regardless of any underlying cashflow. This may take push some operations going through a rough spell finally over the edge, where they may have survived if they hadn't had to pay the Comprehensive Capital Tax.

          It favours operations with very little capital requirements and whose value is in their intangibles of intellectual property and customer base etc, such as Trademe or Infometrics or Xero. But it penalises operations that are highly capital intensive such as the 3D-printing startup that supplies really high-tech metal engine parts to RocketLab, that's a hella expensive machine they needed to buy to get going.

          The CCT from TOP, a land tax, and the proposed wealth tax have the same downside for the accidental millionaires whose property values have skyrocketed under them. Rates alone are causing similar problems for some of those people, but at least rates are in some way (often wildly inaccurate) a payment for council services received.

          I had a bunch more objections back in 2017, when it looked like TOP might actually be a player. If you're interested I can probably go back and dig them up, but I'm not about to put the mental effort in right now to think them through and articulate them afresh right now.

          • mikesh 4.1.4.2.1

            I have to confess I don't know what their policy is with regard to intellectual property. Unless such property is embedded in a company, it would be difficult put a value on it.

          • froggleblocks 4.1.4.2.2

            TOP's 2020 policy applies to property (land, houses) only, not businesses like their 2017 version did.

    • bwaghorn 4.2

      Is the wealth tax targeting trust or just the accidental millionaires in Auckland

      • Andre 4.2.1

        Can't be arsed double-checking right now, but my recollection is that trusts are targeted as well.

        From memory, if the beneficiaries are not identifiable, then there's no $1M exemption, the wealth tax applies from the first dollar (dunno if it's a 1% or 2% rate). If the beneficiaries are clearly identifiable, then basically the beneficiary's share of the trust assets get added to their other assets for the purposes of assessing wealth tax liability.

        Which still means trusts remain an obvious way to reduce the wealth tax liability – if the kids are beneficiaries of the trust, then they each also get a $1M wealth tax exemption.

        • RedLogix 4.2.1.1

          The problem is that even if the discretionary beneficiaries are identifiable and limited in number, there is no legitimate manner in which IRD can bind the trustees decision making in how they might allocate or share the asset. It seems entirely wrong to be taxed on a notional asset value that in reality you may not ever receive, or get any benefit from for decades into the future.

          An equal division may seem simple, but I suspect the High Court is likely to reject that position.

      • Visubversa 4.2.2

        I am one of those accidental millionaires in Auckland. I bought a house in 1981 in a city fringe area. There was a new motorway at the bottom of the road. The housing stock was a mix of rentals – mostly to students or city fringe workers, and private ownership by older Pakeha working class people who had been there for a long time, and by Pasifica people who had come in the 1960's. My neighbours were students, hippies and assorted creative people who needed cheap housing. My friends thought I was mad buying here. 40 years later, the motorway is 4 lanes wider, but my neighbours are all professional people and my suburb is very fashionable. The value of my property is ridiculous – and the rates are high. I am retired and living off the rental of part of the house. I still have a mortgage – of about 20% of the value of the property. I made a good decision 40 years ago – and the Greens are determined to put me in the same category as property speculators.

        • Bearded Git 4.2.2.1

          Visu-"The value of my property is ridiculous".

          That is another benefit of the proposed Wealth Tax. It will help push the market value of houses down to more sensible levels.

          As someone who has already voted Green, I did argue yesterday that the WT could be modified slightly to target the top 4% rather than the top 6% as currently proposed. This would still raise something like $5 billion annually to alleviate poverty and make NZ a fairer place to live while catching less so-called accidental millionaires.

        • Incognito 4.2.2.2

          The value of my property is ridiculous – and the rates are high. I am retired and living off the rental of part of the house. I still have a mortgage – of about 20% of the value of the property. I made a good decision 40 years ago …

          I’m having difficulty understanding your comment, sorry. One the one hand you’re saying that in those 40 years the value of your property has increased astronomically, which I find easy to believe. Yet on the other hand, you’re saying that you still have a mortgage of about 20% of the value. I assume this is 20% of the current value, yes? I don’t want to pry on your personal situation but it does sound odd to me.

      • weka 4.2.3

        The tax is on the wealth of individual people, and yes, Trusts are included in assessing an individual's wealth.

        Also,

        If it is not clearly linked to anyone(for example, a discretionary trust with a large number of beneficiaries), the trust would get treated as its own person for tax purposes and taxed at 2% on all assets, with no million dollar threshold.

  5. bwaghorn 5

    Ok so an old couple have been accruing debt against their house for 15 years now they need to move to a high care facility for their final years ,won't handing over all the tax will limit their choices.

    • Andre 5.1

      If they are moving to a high care facility, the fees for that will drain their money very quickly either with or without an accrued wealth tax bill. Until they get drained down to a low wealth level and become eligible for the government to pay the cost.

    • weka 5.2

      if they've been accruing debt they won't be taxed unless they have shit loads of assets (tax for them starts at $2m, but doesn't become significant for much higher than that).

      If you mean if they've paid off their mortgage, and their house is worth $2m then they pay zero tax when they sell it.

      As Andre says, the state already harvests assets when old people need care.

      • bwaghorn 5.2.1

        The accrued debt is the tax they are deferring

        • McFlock 5.2.1.1

          So $2mil @ 1% (because couple) for 15 years is… $300k.

          Their choices are limited to the remaining $1,700,000.

          • weka 5.2.1.1.1

            it's kind of mind boggling that so many people think that cash assets gained from living in a house during the property boom are grim if taxed at 1%/year.

            I mean, how did we get to a place where people think that being given $1.5m instead of $2m is unfair in a conversation where some people don't have a house to live in or enough food for their kids.

            I'm sure there are problems with the tax, but I'm guessing most of those could be ironed out in the public consultation process.

            • Incognito 5.2.1.1.1.1

              Entitlement

              • weka

                I guess so. I think one of the best things about this policy is that it's getting people talking about what is fair, and hopefully we will see some shift in the next few years around this in the same way we have with welfare since Turei's speech. Both times the Greens have gone 'we can't wait any longer' and gone bold, I'm immensely grateful.

                • Incognito

                  The risk is that the debate becomes polarised and the views of different (opposing) sides become entrenched. The result might be that nothing will change and it will be BAU.

                  • weka

                    Can't see how we can have a shift in values if we don't talk about values.

                    • Incognito

                      Agree, but we’re mostly avoiding talking about values (not property values). Much of the ‘debate’ centres on technicalities such as logistics & admin and the perceived unfairness of loss of entitlement. People love values till it hurts them in the pocket and then some weird kind of value-shyness or value-phobia creeps up on them and they become militant NIMBPies (not in my back pocket).

                    • weka

                      "the perceived unfairness of loss of entitlement."

                      That was the values I was referring to. Along with the desire to not have people living in poverty. Definite clash there for left wing people of means.

            • mikesh 5.2.1.1.1.2

              Why do you call them "cash Assets". Surely the value is tied up in property.

              • weka

                It becomes a cash asset when the property is sold (the example was an elderly person selling their house and going into care).

          • bwaghorn 5.2.1.1.2

            Ta

            Scenario 2

            He dies at 65 does she get a $600 k bill when she sells

            There by punishing the unfortunate more than the fortunate.

            • weka 5.2.1.1.2.1

              sorry, in what world is getting $1.4m being unfortunate?

            • Incognito 5.2.1.1.2.2

              There by punishing the unfortunate more than the fortunate.

              Emotive and wrong.

              A couple of similar age but that has been renting all their life because they never could get on the property ladder, because they ended up caught in the rental trap, won’t have to ‘worry’ about WT because you can’t squeeze blood out of a stone. Obviously, they are the ‘fortunate’ ones. Yeah, right!

            • McFlock 5.2.1.1.2.3

              Actually, I fucked up the math.

              The tax is paid on wealth over $1million per individual.

              So no tax on a 2mil house for a couple. For my tax calculation to be correct, the house would have to be $4million.

              If he dies, worst case is she pays (1% of 3mil)*15 years = $450k, and she's left on the streets with nothing but the clothes on her back and $3,550,000 in her pocket.

              And that's assuming the property had a constant value for 15 years, and didn't start at a quarter of the price.

              • bwaghorn

                So taxing widows double what you tax couples sits well with you?

                • McFlock

                  Not sure about "double". A couple gets an extra million on the threshold. Which is funny, because couples on benefits get less money than two single people. So there is the issue of different rules for rich vs poor.

                  But while I'm a great defender of what the disgruntled social conservatives call "identity politics", I must confess that the economic plight of the multimillionaire widow has not really been a focus of my attendtion.

              • Incognito

                The net wealth tax will be set at 1% on net wealth over $1 million and 2% on net wealth over $2 million.

            • mikesh 5.2.1.1.2.4

              It would be better if he left the house to their children, or other heirs, while giving his wife a life interest.

            • Gareth Wilson 5.2.1.1.2.5

              He dies at 65 does she get a $600 k bill when she sells

              "Eat an apple every day, get to bed by three…"

  6. Descendant Of Smith 6

    I can see lawyers fees and long drawn out processes.

    I can't see why if profit on capital gains is an issue that stamp duty isn't just bought back. It's simple and easy to administer and it is paid at point of sale. Extend it to art works, stamps, coins, jewels, etc over a certain amount, motor vehicles over a certain amount and so on.

    I'm also a fan of turnover tax as it stops the rorting via taxable deductions e.g. layering companies and charging fees from one to the next e.g. An Australian bank charging NZ branches for using the bank name thereby reducing the tax payable in NZ.

    Let the shareholders worry about what expenses the business is incurring and take the tax advantages away. Shareholders might suddenly get a bit more interested if there is no tax advantage to some of the costs incurred.

    • Gabby 6.1

      Or just make that crap no longer tax deductible.

      • Descendant Of Smith 6.1.1

        I'd rather decouple profit from the tax system completely. It's in part the linking of the two that causes much distortion and can drive errant behaviour e.g. big spend-ups before end of tax year, depreciation based on tax criteria, the theft of profit through high salaries because as long as the taxable profit looks OK it seems OK, etc

  7. dv 7

    A Financial Transaction Tax is cleaner, easier to administer.

    A 1% charge (Half Visa Charge) on every $ movement through the banking system.

    Catches money moved over seas too – get the non tax paying corporates.

    • weka 7.1

      probably a harder political sell to NZ though 😉

      • Brigid 7.1.1

        But I can't see why it would be a harder political sell. I'd suggest .5% tho; 1% is too high. At .5% we hoi polloi would hardly notice it, but neither Labour nor Greens have ever seriously considered it. Don't understand why not.

        As dv said it's designed to capture the tax that isn't paid on the billions crossing the border every minute.

        • weka 7.1.1.1

          any wealth tax is going to be controversial. An FTT would get major resistance from the business, investment and political classes, think about things like how much lobbying went into opposing MMP in the 90s. In an era of Dirty Politics the Greens would be the target. Labour would oppose it (the Tax Working Group advised against it).

      • KJT 7.1.2

        We already pay a higher private tax to the bank, whenever we use any sort of cards.

        The merchant fees paid are a lot more than 0.5%

        • weka 7.1.2.1

          Apparently it's more acceptable when banks do it.

          • Draco T Bastard 7.1.2.1.1

            It really does look like business people are happy to have taxes as long as they're the ones applying and getting a profit from them.

          • KJT 7.1.2.1.2

            Not really. The up to 5% banks charge for credit cards to small businesses is a killer. Note the real profit margin for many, after a genuine wage to staff including the owner, is often not much more.

            Landlords and banks, are the takers of business earnings that really kill off small business, that are otherwise viable.

    • froggleblocks 7.2

      That policy was widely discussed at the 2014 election and a little at 2017 IIRC. It was generally agreed that a financial transaction tax would not work in practice because transactions would go offshore, and everyone would try and minimise it as much as possible.

      The general idea of taxes is you "tax what you don't like". Taxing general transactions is therefore a good way to slow down the economy by discouraging transactions.

      • Draco T Bastard 7.2.1

        As KJT points out, transactions are already taxed – by the private banks. Doesn't seem to be slowing them down or driving them offshore.

      • Dennis Frank 7.2.2

        An ftt targets money-shufflers, right? We know the shuffling is around ten times the real economy, don't we? Why not penalise those who are gaming the system??

        Whoever came to that opinion were desperate to retain the right to make money from money, obviously! In what way are such people not parasites? It's not as if an ftt is much of a handbrake on the real economy of goods & services…

    • mikesh 7.3

      An FTT would probably catch houses as well since houses (even family homes) are considered investments.

  8. Pat 8

    The fact is, irrespective of what mechanism is used, the tax take needs to be increased for two key reasons, public services and redistribution. That tax has to come from those that have the ability to pay it and that is the wealthy….the current situation is unsustainable and the redistribution can be consensual and managed or random and chaotic.

  9. Herodotus 9

    From my reading those with family farms and other industries that require large capital injection would also be included, so we have businesses that reinvest any positive cash flow back into the business would now have to budget for another cash outflow?

    Perhaps if the greens and all other parties decided to solve the real problem…Housing them most other social issues would be solved. And watching the junior parties on TV Shaw was the same as the other 4, had little to add.

    • weka 9.1

      I think there are some issues here that would be worked out during the public consultation phase, but if people who own a business can't afford the tax then it can be deferred to such time as the business is sold. And yes, people would have to budget for that.

      example from the policy document,

      Danand Lesleyown a farm worth $5 million, but only have equity of $2 million as they have $3 million in liabilities(debt). They also have a $600,000 home with no mortgage. They have $1.3 million net wealth each and will be liable for a $3,000 wealth taxeach. If one year their income is low because the commodity price for the products theirfarmproducesis low, they can defer their tax payment and pay it later when the commodity price is higher

      As for the housing crisis, the Greens have an integrated approach across multiple policies. This from the wealth tax policy,

      The tax-free status of wealth and assets can encourage choices that don’t benefit Aotearoa overall. For example, investment property is severely undertaxed and encourages people to funnel money into real estate instead of into productive businesses that create jobs. This contributes to housing market inflation. A net wealth tax will help create a more balanced economy and a broader base for the tax system.The Green Party wants to see more investment in productive Kiwi businesses that create jobs, and less investment in property speculation.

      • Herodotus 9.1.1

        You maybe 1 of only 1000 who have watched this.

        3:00 minutes in James Shaw trying to justify his numbers. From what the Parliamentary services model calculated as what tax would result from this measure, James and co "Knocked a 1/3rd off for conservatism" That is $4BILLION that he ignores in being able to collect !!!

        So why reduce by so much What is James failing in telling us ?? That there will be those 0.005% that will avoid paying. So those that are unable to manage their financial affairs families will pay, and those with the greatest wealth will escape. But it looks good in the headlines.

        • weka 9.1.1.1

          Have you read the actual policy? They've addressed tax dodging.

          Re using conservative estimation, how is this usually done in developing policy from inexact data? He says "there is no perfect way of measuring wealth in NZ".

          • froggleblocks 9.1.1.1.1

            They've addressed tax dodging.

            Joke of the year, right there.

            Thousands of lawyers and accountants with thousands of hours on their hands are going to come up with ways of dodging the tax that the greens never thought of.

            • greywarshark 9.1.1.1.1.1

              So it's an employment-rich scheme then? Training to be a lawyer seems a constant dream though the interns can be worked off their feet for little compensation. So more work would be welcome no doubt.

          • Herodotus 9.1.1.1.2

            Yes I have read all the greens policies, and I have taken time to ferret other sources as the link above. So why 1/3rd then IMO he knows that those at the top will escape the damage, but he “cannot” say that.

            He says that there is no perfect way of measuring wealth yet he wants to tax it. Sums it up doesn’t it as to how effective it will be towards what are is his intended targets.

            • weka 9.1.1.1.2.1

              I'm not sure that the 1/3 is solely due to tax avoidance issues. Isn't he also saying that they took a conservative approach because of the difficulty of knowing more specific detail on wealth held by individuals?

              They've presented the figures, what's wrong with them?

              Efficacy is supported by the conservative approach. They know that there is at least this much income to be generated, they're not taking a risk and going for so much that it's uncertain if it's actually there.

      • mikesh 9.1.2

        For example, investment property is severely undertaxed and encourages people to funnel money into real estate instead of into productive businesses that create jobs. This contributes to housing market inflation.

        This applies to all property, not just investment property and properties worth a million plus.

    • KJT 9.2

      Encourages people to keep businesses as a going concern.

      Instead of selling for a big capital gain.

      Mostly a plus.

  10. RedLogix 10

    The intent of the Green's wealth tax is good, but the structure of it, with these arbitrary thresholds is clumsy in the extreme. Taxes like this create distortions and wasteful efforts at avoiding it.

    Yet TOP's Comprehensive Capital Tax, designed to address the same issue, a far more intelligent and equitable tax, was uniformly rejected here solely because the tribal mindset decided Morgan was a rich prick right winger and had to be hated on.

    • Stuart Munro 10.1

      More to do with it bumping retired couples out of their houses – not a concern for Morgan – hence his label.

      • RedLogix 10.1.1

        More to do with it bumping retired couples out of their houses

        And odd claim given that the policy explicitly said that over 65's could apply for an exemption, and their estate could pay on their passing …effectively becoming an estate tax.

        Of course there will be some retired people for whom this might motivate them to downsize, which for many would be a good thing. Too many hang on for years in a family home that no longer serves them well, no matter how sentimentally attached to it they are.

        • KJT 10.1.1.1

          The Greens one allows for defering all of it.

          TOP's one will result in many people selling out to pay the tax. Resulting in houses in even fewer hands over time.

          • RedLogix 10.1.1.1.1

            TOP's one will result in many people selling out to pay the tax.

            Why? If both can be deferred, what would be the difference?

            It's my sense that if the Green's had been smart enough to come up with the TOP CCT version you'd think it was wonderful.

            The older I get the more anti-tribal I become.

            • KJT 10.1.1.1.1.1

              I'm not tribal, as you should have figured out by now.

              If you had been paying attention, you would have read that I don't think either is ideal.

          • froggleblocks 10.1.1.1.2

            TOPs one allows for deferring all of it.

    • mikesh 10.2

      Morgan said, on the campaign trail in 2017, that his tax policies would benefit 80% of NZers. The losers, he said, would be "rich pricks" like himself. "but," he said, "we can afford it".

  11. Stuart Munro 11

    We could do worse than simply reintroducing the gift tax Bill English scrapped. His rationalization was that it "didn't raise much revenue", but it's purpose wasn't to raise revenue but to prevent families being used as a vehicle to circumvent tax.

    I'm not hopeful of seeing the Green's proposal enacted – if Labour wanted progressive tax policy we'd have had some by now – and taking a CGT off the table was an epic fail. They failed because they've chosen to fail.

    • UncookedSelachimorpha 11.1

      Labour has a long track record of having zero interest in addressing inequality unfortunately. The Greens are the only show in town with that on offer (at least the only show with a chance of having MPs in parliament).

  12. UncookedSelachimorpha 12

    The Green wealth tax policy is a fantastic policy – one of the only packages on offer that could materially improve poverty and inequality in my opinion.

    Nearly all the tax would come from a tiny proportion (<10%) of people who can definitely afford it with ease. Many individuals in NZ have net negative wealth and these people in particular would get huge gains from the poverty reduction measures the Greens propose to fund from the wealth tax.

    You don't need tax income to fund social services, but you do need it to counter corrosive inequality and to increase public spending while also managing inflation.

    Here is some information on the distribution of individual and household net wealth in NZ:

    https://www.stats.govt.nz/information-releases/household-net-worth-statistics-year-ended-june-2018

    • KJT 12.1

      Just like clean rivers, the vested interests who have been profiting from gaps in our system, for decades, will never allow it.

      I was surprised how many people of influence, I knew, that were absolutely certain a real CGT was never going to happen.

      So much for democracy, Eh?

      • Stuart Munro 12.1.1

        The truly disgusting thing is how little it would cost them to clean up the rivers. But anything is always too much once the greed bug bites. Governments too, should be weighing other costs. The cheapest fix for rivers is not to let them go the way of the Hwangpu or the Han – both partially restored now at enormous expense.

    • mikesh 12.2

      To address inequality, we need to get house prices down. The only way to do this, as far as I can see, would be to increase interest rates. I would increase them to about 10%, or to 7.5% and make interest non deductible.

      I would also offer to buy back land from anyone who purchased property prior to this interest rate being introduced and who finds themselves under water as a result. The proceeds could be used to reduce their mortgage, and the land leased back to them at a modest rental.

  13. Graeme 13

    We're right on the verge of being liable for this by virtue of building a house in an undesirable part of Whakatipu 30 years ago. The whole thing cost us just over $200K plus a year and a bit of my labour. We've also got a small retail business and I do some outside contracting. In the 2020 tax year we will pay tax on $33K thanks to Covid on top of a declining tourism market.

    So how would our accountant advise us to deal with this tax? My pick is that he would advise us to increase our mortgage to reduce our net wealth and spend it on ourselves. That's right, increase our borrowing for consumption. Hardly the sort of outcome that fits with Green philosophy. I can see all sorts of schemes coming out that would go way beyond the fringes too.

    This poorly thought through policy is the Green Party's 2020 Metiria moment, their saving grace this time will be that their accusers, National are even worse in the ill thought statement department, which is why they are focusing on it to draw attention from their own silly policies and statements.

    I would have preferred the Green Party to be focusing on consumption and environmental taxes rather than misguided envy taxes. We need to bring everyone through as a team, not keep yelling fuck you at each other.

    • KJT 13.1

      Well. You'all should have pushed for capital gains and inheritance taxes.

      Instead of forcing the Greens into another approach to wealth taxes. Which are an absolute essential if our society is to have a future. Instead of ending up like the Phillipines, or the USA..

    • Craig H 13.2

      Borrowing to avoid the tax sounds absolutely moronic – pay higher interest rates on the borrowing than the tax avoided?

    • Incognito 13.3

      I know the mortgage interest rates are at an all-time low but surely not less than the proposed WT even if you (can) claim back the interest part from IRD. I think it makes sense to move money away from dead wood (literally) into production and consumption as I believe that has the potential to stimulate the economy wider.

      • Graeme 13.3.1

        That would be a very good move, but under this proposal there's not really any incentive because whatever the person invests in would still be an asset, clasified as wealth and taxed at the same rate.

        A wealth tax that only covered non-productive wealth (ie houses, cash and art / toys) would be better in this regard.

        But there's not much that's worth investing in apart from property if you're leveraging your equity and borrowing any of the money.

        • Incognito 13.3.1.1

          But there's not much that's worth investing in apart from property if you're leveraging your equity and borrowing any of the money.

          I think you describe the whole problem in one sentence. The issue is circular but rather than breaking the cycle, maybe other forms of investment, e.g. into productive activities, could form another circle and when & where different circles overlap, as in a Venn diagram, they become indistinguishable for all intents and purposes. I’m not familiar with this area of different investment streams but as long as one choice stands out and head and shoulders above other choices it is a no-brainer that people will almost always go for that one. A simple (!) WT is not going to change that on its own, IMHO.

          • Graeme 13.3.1.1.1

            In an ideal world the tax system would incentivise me to go and use my equity to borrow and invest in things like Kiwi Saver funds, but that would need the property market to be simmered down which would destroy my equity.

            Yeah, a circular issue. That's why taxation reform is so hard. Windows like what the 1984 government had don't occur very often to allow bold reforms. Incremental changes just lead us back to what we had pre 1984, or the US system.

            Bold changes need the right government and the right crisis at the same time.

    • weka 13.4

      So how would our accountant advise us to deal with this tax? My pick is that he would advise us to increase our mortgage to reduce our net wealth and spend it on ourselves. That's right, increase our borrowing for consumption. Hardly the sort of outcome that fits with Green philosophy. I can see all sorts of schemes coming out that would go way beyond the fringes too.

      How would you benefit from paying more interest to a bank rather than tax to a government that provides you with public services?

      I'm a little unclear from your example if you are approaching $2m (assuming a couple), or are already well over it and concerned about being able to afford the tax, or whether you have a philosophical opposition to paying more tax generally.

      I really don't get the opposition from people who've made massive amounts of capital simply from having bought a home in a specific place at time and basically being lucky. Does it feel like you are entitled to that wealth and no-one else should benefit? Am genuinely curious.

      • Graeme 13.4.1

        I object to the design and intent of this tax because it is not equitable. It is a postcode tax that discriminates against people who live in places where property values have outstripped their earning ability. So you want to tax people out of their homes, and base that tax on something that person has no control over what so ever. This could be here in Whakatipu or on a foreshore property in Northland that's still in old ownership.

        Don't you think we are entitled to a home and a community, or should we sell up and move to somewhere where we have no roots. The world is about more than money. Maybe we need to be talking about how we grow diverse communities rather than policies that will further stratify already stratified communities.

        What you are trying to call wealth is quite abstract in our case, we can't really use it, apart from borrowing against it, and it's realisable value could drop quite sharply if there was a property correction. As for the business, how do you value an owner operated business, a large part of the value is in the owner / operator's knowledge. If we were to sell right now we'd almost have to pay someone to take it on. Defining and valuing wealth isn't that easy which is why we have income taxation rather than wealth or land taxes. GST is also a tax that is accepted because it be easily and objectively defined.

        With local authority rates there is a rebate scheme to cater for the low income owners. This allows retired people to stay in their home on the pension and not have to sell or accrue debt to pay the rates. The Green policy just talks about deferment, which is naive because you open yourselves to easy attack.

        We pay our taxes willingly, but that is because we see the tax system as fair and equitable. We don't see this proposal as all that fair and equitable, especially around the edges.

        • weka 13.4.1.1

          But the deferral is the very thing that means you wouldn't have to sell, so your argument doesn't make sense to me.

          Completely agree about the value of community and place. I want this for everyone and poor people just aren't afforded this by society. To me it looks like people like yourself wouldn't be harmed by the wealth tax (unless you believe you are entitled to untaxed income if you eventually sell).

          If property prices fall, then so does the tax.

        • Incognito 13.4.1.2

          You make good points. However, I’d like to point out that income tax is not free of being inequitable, far from it, and also has a postcode lottery aspect to it.

          • Graeme 13.4.1.2.1

            I can see how income can be a postcode lottery, but income tax? Unless you mean as a function of income. But yeah, the income tax system has some knobs on it, particularly around secondary and withholding tax.

            At least income tax has some relationship on your cashflow ability to pay.

    • weka 13.5

      I would have preferred the Green Party to be focusing on consumption and environmental taxes rather than misguided envy taxes. We need to bring everyone through as a team, not keep yelling fuck you at each other.

      Calling concern for poor people 'envy' is not team building Graeme.

      Actual GP policy,

      "A broad-based tax system should include taxes on personal and business income, consumption and expenditure, pollution, and environmental resource use."

      You might find the rest of the policy interesting.

      https://www.greens.org.nz/economic_policy

      • greywarshark 13.5.1

        Using the term 'envy' taxes just shows that the commenter has no idea of how society really needs to work – theories and prejudices replace thought in the head of such a person.

      • Graeme 13.5.2

        I see the constraints of poverty as societal rather than financial. I'd rather live in a society where we didn't require poverty for the economy to function. It would be nice if we treated all people with respect like human beings, rather than the paternalistic and punitive manner people who need assistance are treated.

        The maxim "The flogging will continue until moral improves" hasn't won many wars.

        "A broad-based tax system should include taxes on personal and business income, consumption and expenditure, pollution, and environmental resource use."

        All those avenues for taxation revolve around a transaction of some sort, something is taken from, or discharged to the environment, taxable transaction. Same for income / profit earned or good purchased. But how does wealth fit into this, wealth is static, there is no transaction unless the asset is sold, or the cash spent, in which case a taxable transaction should occur but some asset classes are tax exempt.

        So why did the Green Party come out with a wealth tax, that doesn't really fit with their policy objectives, and is completely overshadowing any environmental taxation policies they may have.

        • greywarshark 13.5.2.1

          Why oh why? It's a rhetorical question about the Greens considering a wealth tax. It's sort of like me trying to get the lid off a bottle where it has been screwed by a machine. I just have to cast around till I find something or some way that does the job.

          At present the wealthy have got all their money screwed down tight. They live in a society that provides opportunities for people with money or credits in excess of their needs to use the spare to gain more. Other parts of society don't have this advantage.

          It's one society with a common heartbeat one could say. Is this a new thought for anyone? We all need a certain level of resources. Why can't we ensure that everyone has at least the basics that they need. It's too lopsided at present. So find a way to get a bit of the excess and transfer it to the lower income strata. Not too hard to understand.

  14. Muttonbird 14

    I agree with wealth distribution because I think the economic system we use, defined by the profit motive, is exploitative.

    I also don't have much sympathy for millionaires.

    But this particular form of redistributive tax is difficult because are you not taxing the same thing over and over again? Seems weird.

    Maybe a solution is to remove the taxable part of the asset already taxed in previous years. That way only the gain is taxed. So if the asset is worth $1.1m then in year 1 tax is paid on $100K. If the asset the next year is worth $1.2m then tax is paid on $100K not $200K.

    Still seems weird given how inaccurate valuation of houses is.

    • Incognito 14.1

      Still seems weird given how inaccurate valuation of houses is.

      Not so weird given that insurance, rates, and loan applications, for example, are all based on these valuations.

      A home is priceless, but a property has a value.

    • Andre 14.2

      Still seems weird given how inaccurate valuation of houses is.

      Wait til the accountants and lawyers get busy manipulating the book value of businesses and other assets the proposal is planned to apply to.

      But this particular form of redistributive tax is difficult because are you not taxing the same thing over and over again? Seems weird.

      And the proposed wealth tax is applied to some kind of estimate of value that may or may not bear some sort of relationship to a market value, and may even drop in the future. Whereas a capital gains tax happens once, on the actual sale of an asset, based on the real numbers of a selling price, less the real numbers of selling expenses and cost basis.

  15. Pat 15

    So everyone is agreed, we need more tax ….so long as there is no chance we are the ones that have to pay it .

  16. DS 16

    My preference is for a land tax. You can't move land… and the people who pay it are old and rich (which is why we don't have one, of course).

    • Pat 16.1

      We already have one….its called local body rates

      • mikesh 16.1.1

        Rates are not a tax paid to central government, and are therefor irrelevant when discussing tax matters.

        • Pat 16.1.1.1

          rates are a land tax…and tax is never irrelevant.

          Not to mention they are inadequate for purpose. central gov subsidises local government and the whole funding model is considered unfit for purpose and will likely be reviewed irrespective of the election result.

          • Graeme 16.1.1.1.1

            Rates are paid on the relative value of property in a local authority area, very simply, the council budget is divided by the capital value of the district and apportioned relative to the CV of each property. So you get situations like a million dollar property in Queenstown can pay the same rates as a $300K property in a small provincial town.

            This is very different to how a land tax works being paid on the absolute value of the property.

            • Pat 16.1.1.1.1.1

              Rates are indeed calculated thus however rural properties have a proportion of their share of rating calculated on land area…the fact that "improvements" are included in the calculation have a minor impact on the spread of that tax requirement as the relative capital value of a residential property is also reflected in its land value and there are also uniform charges.

              And yes a million dollar property in Queenstown (or Auckland) can indeed be rated at a similar level to a lesser valued property in a provincial area…so there is inequity in the system just as there will be in a national land tax….there is no way a land tax can work if we are taxing a residential section at the same rate as e.g. farmland

              All of that being so rates are still effectively a land tax (as evidenced by the fact that unimproved land is still subject to rates) the only variable is HOW that land tax is calculated and applied, just as it will have to be should one be adopted for central government funding.

          • mikesh 16.1.1.1.2

            rates are a land tax…and tax is never irrelevant.

            Not in the sense that PAYE and GST are taxes as these latter are paid to the government.

            • Pat 16.1.1.1.2.1

              No rates are not paid to the central government but they are a land tax and how they are applied gives us a good lead on how a central government model would operate, flaws and all.

    • mikesh 16.2

      I would be very happy to see a land tax, but I would apply it to all land (though I'm not sure about Maori land). I think such a move would give us with room to reduce income tax, which would provide some compensation to poorer land owners.

      • Pat 16.2.1

        You may be surprised…if all private land is taxed it would need to net around $6600 per hectare per annum simply to generate the current tax take.

        • mikesh 16.2.1.1

          I'm not suggesting that land taxes replace all income taxes, just some. A reduction of income tax rates would soften the burden land taxes on low income earners.

          However I'm more interested in the principle of the thing: the impact on the economy and the housing market. For example, I think it would encourage the the costruction of infill and high rise housing in cities like Auckland and Wellington, and encourage higher density housing around public amenities and transport hubs. Though, this is happening already in the suburb in which I reside. In the last few years there must be at least 60 or so houses and flats built within about a kilometre radius of my own home; all of them built on very small land areas. A land tax would encourage more of this.

          • mikesh 16.2.1.1.1

            PS: $6,600 per hectare is not all that much anyway

            • Pat 16.2.1.1.1.1

              per annum…as stated above the rating cannot operate on a uniform sum per hectare and shows the lie of simplicity.

              • mikesh

                the rating cannot operate on a uniform sum per hectare and shows the lie of simplicity.

                Why not? Land values would simply adjust in accordance with the nature of the areas levied. This means that the tax paid would adjust to profitability of area in question.

                • Pat

                  the median value of rural land is around $25000 per hectare and the returns from that land would be considerably less than $6600 per hectare, whereas the value of residential or commercial land will be magnitudes higher….if you base land tax on valuation you have many of the same problems as wealth and capital gains taxes.

          • Pat 16.2.1.1.2

            And all the same inequities and applications can be argued for any tax be it capital gains, wealth tax, estate tax or land tax but the fundamental facts remain, if tax needs to increase there is only one place to get it…from those with the ability to pay it and given the bulk of NZs wealth is stored in property then that is the logical place to seek it….anyone of those previously mentioned methods will provide many of the same outcomes but as capital gains has been taken off the table and the only option currently available to vote for is a wealth tax then that is the best option, because the alternative is to continue as we have been and allow that transfer of wealth to remain untaxed and all of the economic and social problems that creates to continue unabated .

            The current settings are unsustainable and that means they will not remain.

            • mikesh 16.2.1.1.2.1

              Wealth taxes and capital gains taxes are like the ambulance at the bottom of a cliff (if you'll forgive a rather hackneyed metaphor). A land tax at least gives us the possibility of adjusting land values until some sort of equilibrium is reached, and those ambulances are no longer needed.

              Usually the wealthiest individuals will own the most valuable land holdings and therefor will pay the most tax

              • Pat

                All of those taxes will impact property values, and the key point is anyone of them provides the opportunity to move incentive from speculation to production,,,as always the devil will be in the detail but what I've seen of the Greens wealth tax I think they have designed a pretty simple workable method that is not too onerous….but as we know, no one likes to pay tax.

                • mikesh

                  All of those taxes will impact property values, and the key point is anyone of them provides the opportunity to move incentive from speculation to production,,,

                  And at this they fail miserably. Except for land taxes which have a different purpose.

                  • Pat

                    "And at this they fail miserably. Except for land taxes which have a different purpose."

                    Care to explain the mechanics of that statement?

                    • mikesh

                      and it's ignorant that a capital gain isn't a capital gain until it's realised in a sale.

                      A CGT or a WT are unlikely to divert innvesment towards production, but rather, if at all, towards the stock market.

                      A land tax on the other hand is likely to divert land towards its most profitable use. But it also prevents ticket-clipping landlords from pocketing most of the benefits, and diverts benefits towards the community.

                    • mikesh

                      Sorry, the bit in italics belonged to another comment and got into this comment somehow by mistake.

                    • Pat

                      that dosnt explain why you think a wealth tax should create any different incentives away from the taxed return activity…all of the mentioned taxes apply to passive property investment for capital gain and therefore the range of responses can be expected to be the same (everything else being equal)

                    • mikesh

                      that dosnt explain why you think a wealth tax should create any different incentives away from the taxed return activity…

                      If the wealth in question was diverted to, say, a small business, then the assets of that business would constitute wealth so the taxpayer in question would be no better off.

                      Besides, I think the purpose of a wealth tax is to redistribute wealth rather than divert it.

                    • Pat

                      A capital gains tax applies to a SME as does an estate tax and unless a SME has no real estate component so would a land tax…the incentive to invest in real estate over other forms of investment is the advantageous return…as that return is net calculated

                    • mikesh

                      A land tax can certainly affect small businesses, which makes it a useful tool for diverting land (a limited resource) to its most profitable use.

                    • mikesh

                      A capital gains tax has no impact on the operation of small businesses since it is not levied until after the business is disposed of. In fact one of the advantages of land taxes (and wealth taxes) is that they are paid regularly: ie yearly, or half-yearly, or the like.

                  • Pat

                    As stated earlier the end result of all those described taxes is the same…taxation of accumulated wealth as opposed to income/turnover….only the timing of that liability is variable.

                    And as further stated the only option currently (realistically) available is the Greens wealth tax. I have no great theoretical objection to any of the options but again note that continuing to refuse to mitigate that transfer of wealth is unsustainable and it is too convenient to constantly try to play one off against the other in the hope of continued inaction.

                    Time that we realised that the majority of society dont have the wherewithal to pay any more tax and ipso facto that tax must come from those that do, no matter the method.

                    • mikesh

                      For that you would need to vote in either Social Credit or TOP, with enough support for one of them to form a government. Good luck with that.

                      PS: Those two parties should join forces.

                • greywarshark

                  Pat I like your thinking and explanation which we all should understand (except those who are wilfully otherwise determined). yes

  17. Stuart Munro 17

    Decent write-up of Jacinda in The Age . On taxation:

    “The government has done pretty much nothing about tax reform. The previous government didn’t do much, either.”

    Another measure proposed to help with home affordability was a capital gains tax (CGT) on real estate, designed to curb speculation and runaway price rises. Much as Australia, and many other countries, already impose. First she delayed and then dumped the proposal. “While I have believed in a CGT, it’s clear many New Zealanders do not. That is why I am also ruling out a capital gains tax under my leadership in the future,” she said last year. Even though, as she said, “I believe it would have made a difference.”

    This was not just retreat but surrender…

    “This is very short-term thinking. The long-term fiscal position isn’t sustainable; it’s not going to be feasible to tax income very much. People with money are increasingly able to switch income and residency around the world. We need major tax reform.”

  18. mikesh 18

    A lot of these taxes, like land taxes, TOP's CC tax, capital gains taxes,etc are feared because they are new to us. If any of them had been introduced 100 years ago, by now we would be used to the situation, adjusted to it, and be pretty much taking it for granted. We would have learned to arrange our affairs with these sorts of taxes in mind. It is actually the change from one tax system to another that creates the difficulties.

  19. Jester 19

    So am I understanding this correctly, say a couple own a house in Auckland that they bought back in the seventies for $50k. It is now mortgage free, and simply due to inflation worth say $1.5 million. If the man say dies young at 70, the house goes to the wife and she lives to 95, will she have to pay 1% of $500k x 15 years in accrued tax =$75,000?

    • weka 19.1

      If she lives in the house until she dies, then her estate will inherit $1,425,000 instead of $1,500,000.

      (as an example, but the value of the property would probably increase over those 15 years if we don't halt the housing crisis).

      • froggleblocks 19.1.1

        I think you also have to pay interest on that deferred tax as well, so it would be more than $75k.

        [citation needed for that please. You may be right, but I’d like to see where you got that from – weka]

        • The Al1en 19.1.1.1

          How much would Gran pay each year under Top's plan for her freehold $1.5m house?

          From the faq section on the tax policy
          https://www.top.org.nz/property_tax

          Isnt this just an attack on NZ super recipients?

          “No. NZ Super recipients get special treatment due to that group being asset rich and cash poor (in general compared to the rest of the population). They will be given the option to roll over property tax until the property is sold, so that there isn’t any effect on their available cashflow for living.”

          • froggleblocks 19.1.1.1.1

            Gran would pay $0 each year until she sold the asset.

            • The Al1en 19.1.1.1.1.1

              So like the deferred wealth tax. How much would be taken from the estate when she sold her 1.5m freehold property, or died?

              • froggleblocks

                It would be $15,000 per annum while she owned that property, likely with interest applied.

                • The Al1en

                  So given the 25 year scenario above that's 375k from top, compared with the 125k wealth tax figure.

                • Incognito

                  Incorrect.

                  She would pay 1% in WT above the threshold of $1 million, which in this case would 1% on 500k, i.e. $5k pa.

                  If there’s some kind of insurance charge on the deferred tax, I think it would be less likely that would also add an additional interest charge on top of that.

                  Edit: is your example referring to TOP or the Green’s proposal?

                  • The Al1en

                    I asked for the top figure, so I assume that's what was given, as evident in my post with both figures.

                  • froggleblocks

                    If there’s some kind of insurance charge on the deferred tax, I think it would be less likely that would also add an additional interest charge on top of that.

                    Councils charge interest AND insurance AND administration fee AND set-up fees for deferred rates.

                    If the Greens are going to say "the same system as used by councils for deferring rates" and offer no further details, we should assume all 4 of those charges would apply to deferred wealth tax.

                    • Incognito

                      Greedy bastards 🙁

                      I don’t think the Greens said as much as per your quote @ 19.1.1.2.1.

        • weka 19.1.1.2

          mod note for you froggle.

          • froggleblocks 19.1.1.2.1

            Here's what the extremely vague Greens' "detailed policy" paper says:

            Some people, particularly retired people, may have a high value home but only modest income. These people will be able to defer payment of the net wealth tax until the home is sold, just as many councils already allow with rates payments.

            Here's what the government's page says about rates deferral offered by councils:

            How much it costs

            Councils charge interest and other charges such as:

            • set-up fees
            • an annual administration fee
            • an insurance charge — often called a reserve fund levy — to protect them from not recovering the rates debt if your house sells for less than expected.

            https://www.govt.nz/browse/housing-and-property/getting-help-with-housing/postpone-defer-paying-rates/

            I think it's drawing an extremely long bow to suggest that the government wouldn't charge interest on a deferred tax, since they already charge 'use of money' interest on income taxes etc.

            Really unless the Greens explicitly say otherwise, it should be assumed that interest will be charged. What the rate would be remains to be determined, though.

      • Jester 19.1.2

        Actually, I did my math wrong! If she lives to 95 and he dies at 70 that is 25 years @ $5k a year = $125k!!!!

        And as froggleblocks points out, there may be interest on it too!

        I cannot bring myself to vote for that.

        • Incognito 19.1.2.1

          That amounts to about $100 per week, which is not all that much in the greater scheme of things and much less than what most (!) tenants pay in rent in Auckland.

          Your example also assumes that the value of the house in Auckland will not change over 25 years, which seems highly unlikely.

          Until I see a link, I assume froggleblocks made it up about paying interest on deferred tax. However, I would expect it to be indexed for inflation.

          • Jester 19.1.2.1.1

            $100 per week for a lot of superannuants I actually think is a lot. I agree as you point out, the house value is very likely to change over the 25 years…….that could make the accrued tax far higher if the house starts of when the husband dies at $1.5m and increases to say $2.5m in 25 years. That could push the wealth tax up to nearly $300k (as some will be at 2% over the $2m)

            • weka 19.1.2.1.1.1

              the house is mortgage free, so the accommodation costs would be $100/wk plus rates and repairs. Many people in NZ continue to have housing costs once they retire. But, she can still defer payments until sale if the $100/wk is not possible.

        • weka 19.1.2.2

          so she makes over a million dollars, defers the tax until she dies, and you are objecting to her estate inheriting $1,250,000 instead of 1,500,000. In a country where some people have no homes and not enough to feed their kids. Can you please explain to me how the widow is hard done by here?

          • Herodotus 19.1.2.2.1

            As someone connected to TG's why was this policy limited to "only" taxing New Zealanders ? The are plenty of assets in foreign or complex ownership that is not easy to decipher who the individual benefactors/owners are. I am sure there are some benefactors who don't know they are, or to what value there is under their name.

            A CGT has the advantage of applying to all who own property, and that various mechanisms of ownership of land. Buy at $1m sell $1.2m CG of $200k, on the surface easy to calculate and doesn't matter the ownership.

          • Jester 19.1.2.2.2

            I think she is hard done by (or her son / daughter is) if they inherit it. They would have purchased the house out of after tax income and probably struggled paying mortgage rates of 16%-21%. The house now being worth $1.5m is due only to inflation (its not like they speculated and bought a "do up" and got a massive capital gain). If the wife sold it say a year before she passed away, she would be unable to purchase an equivalent house in same area as they would also be worth $1.5m and she would lose $120k in tax and be left with around $1.38m.

            Likewise if say her only son was living in the house with her looking after her and inherited the house, he would probably be forced to move out as wouldn't be able to pay the huge tax bill (as all money probably tied up in the house) and would be forced to downsize. Becomes an estate tax.

            It seems unfair IMO as although a lot of people on here will say, inheriting $1.38m worth of property is massive, why should he be forced to sell it and be worse off? It is only an above average house in Auckland.

            • weka 19.1.2.2.2.1

              If he inherits the house and can't pay the tax, he can defer it. There's no compulsion to sell.

              "If the wife sold it say a year before she passed away, she would be unable to purchase an equivalent house in same area as they would also be worth $1.5m…"

              I have some sympathy for the needing to buy in the same area thing, but if she was doing what most elderly people do and moving into a smaller house then I think it's likely she could afford that.

              Are you against a CGT too?

              Meanwhile, in another suburb in Auckland, someone is living in a moudly, draughty home, on the bones of their arse because they're ill, can't work and have to subsist on the dole. Part of this whole conversation is whether people are willing to share and what we are willing to give up. Your argument seems to be that people who are pretty well off shouldn't have to have anything about their lives change so that poor people can no longer be poor.

              • Jester

                Absolutely feel for the example you give living in a mouldy house in another part of Auckland but IMO that s a different conversation / debate. Especially if the example you use is someone unable to work or too sick to work. IMO the Greens want to take away from someone that has worked hard all their life.

                If he inherits a house and cant pay the tax it just keeps accruing…who wants to end up with that hanging around their neck.

                Life is about choices. eg. Two 18 year olds start their working life, one works hard saves as much as they can, buys a house, is mortgage free by the time they are 40 and ends up with a mortgage free house worth $1.5M when they are 70. The other likes to party, spends his weekly pay check, rents for the next 40 years and ends up living in a mouldy drafty home.

                Should the first guy who worked hard then have to pay for the bloke that partied hard?

                IMO he should not.

                I'm not against a capital gains tax where the tax is not just based on inflation. But the fact is, a house purchased in Auckland in 1975 is probably now worth a lot more than what was paid for it. I really do not see why the couple should face having to get a reverse mortgage in their golden years.

                • weka

                  what about the person who inherited the money to buy the house in the 70s that's now worth $1.5m, and who was a lazy slob for 45 years? Do they deserve a million bucks while the person down the road doesn't have enough to feed his kids because he spends most of his minimum wage on rent? Rent that is too high because of the same property market that gave dude 1 a million bucks?

                  It's not a different conversation, it's exactly the same conversation. The people with more than they need will have to share if they want the people with not enough to be ok. It's really that simple.

                  • Drowsy M. Kram

                    "The people with more than they need will have to share if they want the people with not enough to be ok. It's really that simple."

                    Absolutely, and it fair beggars belief how small a percentage of their wealth the wealthiest would need to share/gift to significantly improve the lot of so many who have so little. Unfortunately it's a pretty big 'IF' – some who appear keen get rather hot and bothered about the details.

                  • Jester

                    The person who inherits the house may not be a lazy slob, its irrelevant anyway, as his parents who paid for it worked hard for it, paid very high interest rates, and paid for it out of after tax income. The Greens now want to penalise them for saving for their retirement. Better to be the lazy sod, who drank and gambled it all away and had a great time, who now lives in a one room rented apartment and struggles to pay the rent as the Greens want to take from the people who made sacrifices and saved and give to him?

                    A lot of people that have "more than they need" are in that position due to the smart life choices they made. I agree some people need help and support and not due to anything they have done are disadvantaged, and the welfare system, state houses, are there for them (and yes a lot more could be done here by whoever is in govt). The rents and house prices are too high and people struggle to pay rent but that is due to a lack of supply. Labour really need to build more houses.

                    • McFlock

                      I love how folks say "life choices" like a significant amount of choices people make involve perfect knowledge about future consequences.

                      As I get older, as far as I can tell it comes mostly down to luck. For a career, finding something you are good at, enjoy, and people want to pay you for. In life, having friends who help you rather than lead you astray, having a supportive family, having good role models. In love, meeting the right person when you're both at the right time to mesh together, not getting cancer or hit by a car while young. In wealth, picking the right horse to invest in, meeting the right person who can help your business or career prospects, not getting screwed by your business manager.

                      All of that shit is down to luck. I know guys who work like dogs but can't get a break. Me, I took one paper at university because I liked simply saying the name of the paper, and that paper ended up getting me a cushy job for the last ten years. It's all a crap shoot. Anyone who says it's based significantly on merit hasn't been looking around.

                    • Jester

                      That's an interesting way of looking at life McFlock. I disagree with it though. Sure luck can play a part, but not normally the main part in my experience and I'm no spring chicken. Like the guy that spends all his money each week on booze or drugs, gets to 50 , owns nothing, buys a lotto ticket and next day can can afford a yacht, a Ferrari and a large house.

                      The guy that works hard, decides to go to Uni, gets the degree, works 65 hour weeks, pays off a mortgage and ends up well off due to deciding to work hard. That is not luck. His mate the same age decides to travel around the world and party hard ends up renting in to his 60's. That is not luck either. He's seen the world and had a great life. Its a choice and yet the first two will be required to pay a wealth tax to help him out? Just makes it seem like an envy tax to me.

                    • McFlock

                      Unless guy number 2 gets high blood pressure because of the 65hr weeks, so suddenly has to cut down on work.

                      But the funny thing about extreme cases like guy number 1 is that there are usually underlying issues behind their alcoholism or gambling addiction. Maybe genetic, maybe trauma-related, maybe both. Most people make average choices and/or have average luck.

                      Knew a guy who had worked hard and was on the cusp of an international deal for massive $$$, but died quite suddenly a year or two back. And a hippie in his thirties who got terminal stomach cancer. Maybe their life choices could have used less substances, maybe their demise was unrelated and they could have done all the drugs they wanted.

                      "Best laid plans of mice and men", and all that. And that's not even including the offspring of the nouveau riche. They have to make pretty bad choices to offset their good luck of parents.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      The guy that works hard, decides to go to Uni, gets the degree, works 65 hour weeks, pays off a mortgage and ends up well off due to deciding to work hard. That is not luck.

                      Yes it is.

                      There is no guarantee that working hard and having a degree will make you wealthy or even pay off a mortgage.

                      This is because your life and work is affected by other people's choices.

                      There's people around that have worked hard, have a degree and are unemployed. According to you they've done everything right and so why are they unemployed?

                      Because of other people's choices. Particularly by the government's choice not to have full employment.

                      And, yeah, that guy working for 65 hours/week is going to die early from excessive stress. Not what one would call a healthy lifestyle.

                      How much should people have to miss family/loved ones to get ahead?

                  • mikesh

                    Unfortunately, your example and Jester's are at odds. You can't have it both ways. However, an inheritance tax would address inequality while, at the same time, allowing Jester's bloke to enjoy his wealth while he is still alive.

  20. Brendan 20

    Nat voter here.

    One interesting oddity in the wealth tax debate comes from a country which actually has a wealth tax!.

    The tiny European nation of Lichtenstein has a wealth tax. The very rich are assumed to have an income of x% (x varies depending on the reasonable return) from their riches and are thus accordinley taxed.

    Interestingly Lichtenstein is also known for it's 'totally legal' tax reduction services.

    • Draco T Bastard 20.1

      It's worth noting that closing all the loopholes in our own system 'totally legal' tax dodging was eliminated would probably work as well. Unfortunately, would probably be a bigger sell than a CGT.

      Just think of all the noise that the tax dodging rich pricks would make if they actually had to pay tax.

      • Brendan 20.1.1

        Nat voter here.

        What loop holes in particular? There are so many.

        The reality is that you can either fight the legal arms race changing laws here there and everywhere, while hoping they don't find out or change their pratices. (remember many rich are not rich! – trusts you see).

        Or give them what they want (low taxes), and find some other way of getting the cash – a land tax for example.

        Or even better, fix the reason we need high taxes in the first place (e.g. poor people are very expensive for the govt, so reduce poverty rates).

        • Draco T Bastard 20.1.1.1

          Giving the rich what they want is a bad idea. It is, simply, rewarding bad behaviour.

          The NZ government used to run a policy of full employment but the rich didn't like it as it meant wages were higher. We now have poverty because the rich wanted it so as to keep wages down and the government gave it to them.

          The only real option we have is to put in place a tax system that works and that doesn't reward the rich for their bad behaviour like the one we have now.

  21. PsyclingLeft.Always 21

    Quite a good read…

    "Exactly how much these tax practices cost New Zealanders isn’t clear. There is little public information available about the scale of the tech companies’ activities in this country let alone details of how much income tax they pay. Google, which has recently adopted “country-by-country” reporting as a means of giving more transparency to its results, did file financial statements for the year ended 31 December 2018. These show its income tax liability for the year was $398,341. (Intriguingly, the financials show the GST payable as of 31 December 2018 was $6,252,847 and that it owed over $81 million to an unnamed related party. I’ll leave you to guess where that might be located.)"

    https://thespinoff.co.nz/business/13-01-2020/uber-is-a-case-study-in-our-complicity-with-tax-avoidance/

    There are lots more evader/avoiders….NZ is also linked to the World wide money laundering scandal….been seen as a soft touch "nothing to see here"

    • PsyclingLeft.Always 21.1

      Panama Papers….NZ

      "Mossack Fonseca offered two New Zealand products to its overseas clients: an NZ foreign trust, and a Look Through Company (LTC).

      As long as the trust and the LTC had no income in New Zealand and had no New Zealand beneficiaries, then they paid no New Zealand tax.

      But there was another advantage because technically the LTC was taxed, it's just that the tax rate was set at zero.

      One French investor who moved his holding company from Luxembourg to a New Zealand LTC knew he would pay no tax."

      https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/79714914/the-panama-papers-new-zealand-link-revealed

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