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Budget 2008: Tax cuts

Written By: - Date published: 2:55 pm, May 22nd, 2008 - 27 comments
Categories: budget 2008, election 2008, tax - Tags:

Labour has announced a three year tax cut package worth $10.6 billion. Here’s a table showing the changes:

Current 15.00% 21.00% 33.00% 39.00%
Up to $9,500.00 $38,000.00 $60,000.00 $60 K
New 12.50% 21.00% 33.00% 39.00%
01/10/08 $14,000.00 $40,000.00 $70,000.00 $70K plus
01/04/10 $17,500.00 $40,000.00 $75,000.00 $75K plus
01/04/11 $20,000.00 $42,500.00 $80,000.00 $80K plus

What does this mean? Here are the figures for various incomes levels:

Tax cut $ per year Income 01/10/08 01/04/10 01/04/11
Min. wage fulltime 25,037 $620.00 $917.50 $1,130.00
median individual 27,081 $620.00 $917.50 $1,130.00
average individual 34,803 $620.00 $917.50 $1,130.00
median employed 38,769 $608.47 $905.97 $1,118.47
average employed 46,178 $860.00 $1,157.50 $1,670.00

There’s no big bang in these cuts, and that might disappoint a simplistic analysis, but it’s actually quite clever. Labour has lowered the bottom tax rate and extended all the thresholds in steps. This means that the tax cuts are well spread across all income levels.

The 50% of kiwis with incomes below $28,000 will be paying from 11% to 26% less tax from October, and from 21% to 31% less tax by April 1 2011. The tax cut for the average employed person will be $16 a week rising to $32 a week, while those on incomes over $80,000 will get cuts starting at $28 rising to $55.

The increase in the 39% threshold will mean 300,000 fewer people will no longer be paying any tax in this bracket by 2011. By then, no-one with an income of $100,000 or less will be paying over 27.4% of their income in income tax and nearly 2 million people will be paying less than 15% of their income in tax.

Of course, income tax is no longer as simple as the simple rates, Working for Families delivers a tax break to 70% of kiwi families with kids, over 370,000 households. The Working for Families payments have been boosted too. The average family has an income of $72,000 (two thirds from one parent, a third from the other) and two children. With the tax cuts and Working For Families increases combined, these families will be $43 a week better off on October 1 and $85 a week better from April 1 2011.

It’s worth noting that superannuation is tied to the average after-tax wage, so a tax cut sees superannuation payments automatically boosted. Coupled with tax cuts, a couple on super will be about $75 a fortnight better off by April 1 next year.

Tax cut calculator (doesn’t include Working for Families).

27 comments on “Budget 2008: Tax cuts ”

  1. Daveski 1

    Except of course these are so clever they aren’t even tax cuts – they simply reverse the impact of bracket creep.

    Surely Cullen’s credibility has gone given his sheer obstinance in refusing tax cuts during the golden weather but bringing them forward this year to try and hold power?

    Surely, surely you can see this?

  2. randal 2

    No I dont see that at all. New Zealanders have been promised some tax relief and they have got it. If you dont want it you can always hand it back.

  3. dave 3

    Hand back $12 a week! lets see, I could write a cheque -( bank check $3.00), drive to the post office ($2 for return trip) get an envelope and postage ($1.00)

    Thats half the tax cut spent already. I`ll stop there.

  4. You fellas probalby haven’t been fultime on the minimum wage (let alone tried to support a family on it) but let me tell you, $1130 extra a year (plus $2000 a year every time Labour rises the minimum wage a dollar) means a lot when you’re income is so low.

  5. gobsmacked 5

    Dave

    Where did you get the $12 figure from?

  6. Daveski 6

    Try responding to my point. In real terms – ie over Labour’s 9 years – these so called cuts simply amount to reducing the average tax rate to what it was. So these aren’t tax cuts.

    Second point. I would even be prepared to give the guy some credit if he stuck to his guns. So why change his stance when the economy is worse than it’s been for the past 8 years??

    As the NZH has pointed out, a block of Colby isn’t going to make that much difference is it?

  7. Maybe not to you Daveski but to most families the kind of increase we’re talking here, $43 a week for the average family on October 1, is a big deal

  8. Daveski 8

    Fair comment Steve – I was not trying to sound like a rich prick and genuinely belief more relief is needed, particularly for the average family.

    My points were about the motivation and the past reluctance to do anything over the past 8 years.

  9. dave 9

    Dave, where did you get the $12 figure from

    I got it from here, actually

    (captcha “deliver Dec” – which is what National will be doing …

  10. Lampie 10

    I thought we were doing 19.5% to $38K currently???? http://www.ird.govt.nz

    This is a question

    [not really. We do 15% to $9,500 then 21% to $38,000. Now, in theory, what is happening is we’re taxed at 19.5% for the first $38,000 but we get 4.5% back on the first $9,500 and then that ‘low income rebate’ is abated at the rate of 1.5% (19.5% to 1.5% abatement = 21% effective) until $38,000, when it is entirely abated. In practical effect, there are just four brackets: 15%, 21%, 33% and 39%. It’s a little hard to explain but if you try it out on excel you’ll see it makes sense. Now, the 15% rate is being lowered to 12.5% and its threshold exceeded out up to $20,000. SP]

  11. Matthew Pilott 11

    lampie – it is, but there’s a low income rebate which effictively delivers a four step system.

    15% up to $9,500 and the 21% to $38,000 delivers an effective rate of 19% at $38,000, but weights it to the higher end of the bracket. Hope that make sense.

  12. lampie 12

    Thanks SP, as I’m just going by IRD

  13. lampie 13

    Thanks Matt, see above 🙂

    The way I look at it as a personal thing is, that the phone bill is paid for each month which yay great for for me and it is going to get better still.

    Very pleased with this but hope we haven’t left ourselves a bit short.

    If Key wants to give away more, means cuts to services and/or borrowing.

    Also as someone said before about Mr Key pulling figures out of the air, he now has to put up or shut up, i.e. tell us HOW he is going to do it.

    Should be our catch phrase now – PUT UP OR SHUT UP, KEY

  14. lampie 14

    Matt – IRD website I mean 🙂

    Good to know these things.

    Thought those nasty newspapers have made another mistake, again.

  15. jbc 15

    It’s shame that income splitting is still nowhere to be seen. I’m not sure why IRD views a married couple (or civil union) on, say, $60k each as needing to pay less tax than the case where one partner earns $120k and the other $0.

    Now, as a self-employed person trading through a company I can pay my partner $60k (soon $70k) as a part-time admin/accounts person while she looks after the kids. This saves our family $167 per week in tax under the current tax brackets (March 2008).

    Is it not unfair that a regular salary earner can not do the same?

  16. Lew 16

    jbc: TVHE had a good and not-too-technical post on why income-splitting is a no-fly-zone for anyone other than UF.

    Summary: 1. it’s economically illiterate; 2. it requires an ideal family type to be codified in legislation; 3. it effectively penalises anyone not belonging to that ideal family type. I’d add 4: Massive implementation problems.

    http://tvhe.wordpress.com/2008/04/28/household-structure-economic-units-and-income-splitting/

    L

  17. jbc 17

    Lew: if it is all of those things, then WFF must come pretty close to having the same faults. We all know it is a WINZ benefit – but the govt loves to call it a tax credit of some sort.

    As for fairness, I don’t really buy the argument that it is unfair to individuals. The same argument could be made against many govt initiatives. Any what of the fairness of tax liability for single/dual income families?

    Hell, it might even reduce the number of solo parents.

  18. Lew 18

    jbc: WFF is in fact a tax credit, not a benefit – to receive it you need to be working and paying tax. It does have some similarities with income-splitting in this regard, and it does have some of the same failings. What makes WFF good is that the crucial determinant of entitlement is the one which the policy is targetted to solve: the problem of low income families (of any shape or size) with dependant children. No children, no WFF; no working, no WFF.

    I also don’t have much time for the line that it’s unfair on individuals. I recognise that it arguably is, but I see important societal benefits from this sort of targetted support which make it worthwhile (though I don’t currently benefit from it myself).

    As for your last comment: why on earth would you like to reduce the number of solo parents? Economically disadvantaging the decision to cut loose from a bad relationship will result in increased spousal abuse and relationships of convenience. There would be a bunch of other collateral effects too. This is simplistic policy.

    L

  19. jbc 19

    Lew: I can see that we’ll have to settle with agreeing to disagree here. Whether splitting is economically illiterate is a matter of opinion. Some countries allow it in various forms (don’t have the references handy). I’m not sure if spousal abuse is higher in those countries – seems a rather negative way to look at it.

    On solo parents: I was thinking of the solo parents than might already be in a relationship but deliberately kept at a distance so that DPB can still be claimed. At present a de-facto relationship with an earner would result in a drop of income for the potential household (even with WFF).

    And, for the record, I’m not a pro-family fundamentalist. I’m just pragmatic. Those that can afford to manipulate their earnings through various entities (or ‘investment vehicles’) are already doing so.

    Compared to WFF? Well, income-splitting is not really going to be of much benefit for the wealthiest double-income-no-kids couples as their marginal rates are probably the same or similar. WFF looks at gross household income so it results in the same inequity between single and double income families.

  20. RedLogix 20

    Lew,

    Agreed. My two children are adults now, and it’s only been the last few years that I’ve realised just how dammed expensive they were.. and I’ve enjoyed a top 5-10% income all my life. But it was not until I started working for Habitat for Humanity a few years back, that I got an authentic sense of how hard families with 2-3 kids earning below median incomes have it. On what it really is like for those 20% odd of NZ children growing up in poverty… and just how eagerly they will seize the opportunity to get out of the trap they are in.

    And the trap has teeth. It’s the time poverty that does the damage. Far too often both parents are working at sub-standard jobs that mean one or other of them is working shift (or worse still split shifts), and both parents have hardly ever at home together, and the family spends even less time as a whole. It’s the sheer endless grinding weariness of their lives, that mean these kids grow up in families who with only half shadows of parents.

    I could tell of numerous first hand life stories, where WFF has made a difference. Yes they are still doing it hard, its not easy and likely never will be easy being a parent… but you see kids being taken to sports, or ballet lessons for the first time. They actually go on holiday, a thing they never dreamed of at one time. The rent gets paid on time, the school fees are not always ignored, doctors visits are not always put off until the very last possible moment.

    Now I’m no Pollyanna. I know they still screw up, and money gets spent on stupid things, smoking, gambling, HP on crap cars… but these are lessons we all have to learn, regardless of how wealthy we are. But WFF is changing things for families all over NZ. If you are one of those who are single, and you really are so miffed about it, there is one sure cure… get your own kids. That’ll fix you.

  21. Lew 21

    jbc: Yeah, you make some good points. `Economically illiterate’ only because it doesn’t work on the individual economic unit, but that’s a big deal.

    Agree with your explication of DPB and WFF vs IS for the DINKs, too – but it affects them as soon as they become SIWKs (which is my case).

    Didn’t pick you as a fundie either, fwiw.

    RedLogix: Yeah, I grew up oldest in a DPB household, and it sucked, economically.

    L

    Captcha: `is buses’. Yes, is.

  22. jbc 22

    Ok Lew, I’m not an economist by any stretch of the imagination. I never studied economics at any level and I do not have any prior reading on income splitting.

    As a non-economist I’d make the point that an individual no longer behaves as an individual ‘economic unit’ once they have a family. Their income is no longer their own (although some think otherwise). Decisions that affect income, how it is obtained, how it is spent, can be very different to that of the single person. I have two young kids so I’m not a complete stranger to this.

    Looking at the raw tax system it seems obvious to the layperson that the progressive tax scale is designed to take more from individuals who can supposedly afford it. At least I guess that’s the theory.

    It stands to reason that this assumption no longer holds when the income of an individual supports a family unit. Splitting the income puts the average and marginal rates at levels that are closer to what might be appropriate.

    If IS were in place then WFF would be needed in far fewer cases and I believe the application of the tax scales would be fairer overall (it’s our job to be fair… 🙂 )

    Latter racket

  23. Lew 23

    jbc: I’m not an economist either, but I do have some interest in the subject inasmuch as economic theory applies to politics. I’m not sure you’re right in arguing individuals stop behaving economically as individuals once they’re part of a family, but I don’t have the toolkit to argue properly against it, so I’d welcome an economist’s view.

    L

  24. bill brown 24

    Perhaps the range of WFF could be widened from support based on number of children to support based on number of dependants. This would provide for those workers supporting anyone in the household not just children.

  25. erikter 25

    bill brown said: “Perhaps the range of WFF could be widened from support based on number of children to support based on number of dependants. This would provide for those workers supporting anyone in the household not just children.”

    Another left-wing harebrained idea. Why do we need to support people who on their own volition have elected to have large families?

    If you want to breed, OK, but don’t expect the rest of society to foot the bill.

    The term absurd comes to mind.

  26. Matthew Pilott 26

    erikter, WFF gives people their own tax back as a credit. If you want to complain about something, learn how it works.

    If people want to have children, I say support them as best society can, to increase the chances of the kids being well brought-up, getting good jobs and contributing to society.

    Opposing that – patently absurd indeed!

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