web analytics

Capital Fair Gains

Written By: - Date published: 8:54 am, June 15th, 2010 - 17 comments
Categories: tax - Tags:

At the moment the UK is debating a rise in Capital Gains Tax, from 18% to 40 or 50%. The debate is largely going on within the ruling Tory party, as their coalition partners the Liberal Democrats won several tax concessions so that they could create a GBP10,000 income tax free band. The proposed tax rise is to treat earned and unearned income the same.

Most other western countries have a capital gains tax, but in New Zealand unearned income (or capital gains) is not taxed at all. As Sam Morgan pointed out, he doesn’t seem to be able to find any tax to pay. If you just make a profit from buy and selling stuff (eg houses) there’s no earned income. There’s also not a lot of benefit to society, as you’re likely just pushing house prices up and making us all more indebted. A Capital Gains Tax would help rid us of that perverse incentive.

It would also help close a loophole where a business can be created, increased in value, and sold at a profit, avoiding a lot of tax (or any tax at all if the business avoids making a taxable profit) for the owner.

It is hard to see a better tax that would raise billions of dollars to be used elsewhere (a tax free band in NZ please? funding superannuation anyone? All the Nats cancelled Education back?) and help re-balance the economy, reducing another housing bubble like the one that popped in 2008. As it stands we’ve been borrowing money off Japanese housewives to bid ever higher against each other for houses. The Japanese get rich from loaning to us, and our exchange rate goes artificially high from all the yen buying kiwi dollars to lend to us; this in turn hurts our exporters who we need to increase the wealth of the country. It also means that we have no domestic savings to grow NZ businesses, who turn to foreign ownership to grow… before you know it foreigners own our entire economy and New Zealand is a permanently poor nation with no control over our destiny – our debt (mainly private) is already more than 100% of our GDP (yearly income), so we’re well on the way.

A fair capital gains tax would probably be very like the Australian version. The family home is excluded, the tax on any gain is only paid on realisation (ie when you actually sell an asset), and the gain is attenuated for inflation. It would only be paid by those who can afford to own expensive assets beyond their own home ie those wealthy enough to pay it, and including some of those who currently avoid tax.

National aren’t interested, as it’s their rich mates that benefit from not being taxed, while hard-working Kiwis foot the bill. The Greens support it, and Labour it dallying with it – they need encouragement, and help in selling it, to grasp the nettle.

The other side of the coin is that as well as not mortgaging ourselves to invest in unproductive sectors of the economy we also need to save. But the left seems to slowly be getting jiggy with such ideas as compulsory super, so there’s hope there. As long as the right haven’t sold New Zealand’s few remaining assets off before they get back in.

Bunji

17 comments on “Capital Fair Gains ”

  1. vto 1

    How is the housing sector an unproductive sector of the economy? I think you will find it is one of the largest components of the economy.

    If you are referring to the fact that houses are not exported and that only exporting parts of the economy are worthy then you sound very much like Don Nicholson, Fed Farmers head, who recently called farmers, manufacturers and tourism operators the “real” New Zealanders and everyone else effectively leaches. Exposes an ignorance and a wankishness.

    In addition, your reference to Japan is way out of kilter – that country is even more burdened by debt than us. Their housewives may lend to us but they borrow more off German husbands.

    Bit of a creaking post.

    • Bunji 1.1

      The fact that housing is a large sector of the economy is in fact the problem.

      Building houses may be productive, but everyone deciding to pay each other more and more for the same asset (borrowing to the hilt to do so), is unproductive. It creates no income for the economy, but increases our debt. Unless we are creating or adding value to something (goods or services), it is unproductive.

      Japan’s problem is public debt – in the reverse situation to us their government owes a lot, but their private sector is savings rich. But due to deflation and the like their interest rates are about 1% – which makes high interest economies like ours was, and will be in a year’s time, very attractive for their savings.

      • vto 1.1.1

        Yes well Bunji, the problem is not the housing sector it is the investment sector. A subtle but real difference.

        Much like the investment sector in Australia ramping up mining sector values above the line of normal value, whereas the business of actual mining carries on, albeit distorted by the investment sector’s wayward ways.

        It just annoys me when it is suggested that sectors of the economy which are not exporting are described as unproductive. It is bullshit. Such a description suggests that an economy (be it NZs, or the entire worlds) is a zero-sum game i.e. all the wealth that can ever exist, currently exists, and that it is a matter of taking it off your fellow manwoman to improve your own relative position.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.2

      How is the housing sector an unproductive sector of the economy?

      A house doesn’t produce any wealth itself, ergo, it is unproductive.

      • vto 1.2.1

        Then in that case Mr Draco everything is unproductive.

        I don’t see a litre of milk produce any wealth in the way you infer. What product does? Nothing does. All that happens with everything is that people pay to use it. People buy or rent a house to live in… people buy a litre of milk to drink and grow dem strong bones…. people buy or hire a japanese car to drive around in… people in a factory may buy a machine which spits out widgets they can sell, but even that is but the same again, namely people paying to use the widget. No widget, machine, car, food or house produces wealth in the manner you describe.

        “The housing sector is unproductive” is one of those banal myths that simply expose an ignorance of economies and wealth creation. Unless you believe Draco that an economy (any one, you choose) is a zero-sum game. And frankly I find that absurd…

        • RedLogix 1.2.1.1

          Exactly vto.

          To those who think housing is unproductive, I invite them to move themselves, partner and children, under a nice highway bridge someplace.

          Get back to us when you’ve got it figured out…

  2. Sanctuary 2

    Reading the British press and general reaction online, it seems Nick Clegg is front footing all this and repeating all the coalition mistakes of NZ First and the Alliance in spades. The tragedy is the Liberals will get some dog bone of the least possible amount of faux electoral reform the Tories can get away with just in time for their electoral oblivion.

    • Lanthanide 2.1

      What mistakes were those and what mistakes are they repeating?

      • Bunji 2.1.1

        Often the mistakes seem to equate to ‘going into government’ and ‘actually doing something’. But given those points are the main reason most politicians go in to parliament (because they’re vain enough to think that they can make a difference), those are mistakes that are always going to be repeated.

        The LibDems have extracted quite major concessions from the Conservatives, and I don’t see how front-footing on those concessions will do them any (further) harm. Going into government was always going to be difficult as the views of their supporters are actually quite disparate. Ignoring the ‘left-right’ axis and placing themselves at one end of the ‘liberal-authoritarian’ one leaves a lot of scope for their supporters to project onto – going into government was always going to be a disappointment for some of them. Incidentally although many saw them as ‘left’ following the moving right of UK Labour, UK Labour’s big lurch towards authoritarianism actually left a lot of policy overlap with the Tories (eg getting rid of national ID cards).

        Yes they will only get Preferential Voting out of the Conservatives, but even that will give them noticeably more seats, making the possibility of them getting power again into a probability; and when they can then team up with Labour they should be able to extract futher electoral reform.

        And yes, should they get that further electoral reform, they may well find themselves with Alliance-like problems, where with proportional representation many see they might be better off splitting into a new party…

        Personally I’d be quite happy if one of National’s partners could extract a Capital Gains Tax, Inheritance Tax and $20,000 income free tax band (with personal tax rates up to 50%+national insurance staying), even without the other concessions the LibDems got. Maybe Act, they profess a liberal bent 😈

        • Lanthanide 2.1.1.1

          Thanks, very informative. Still waiting for Sanctuary to elucidate on what he was hinting at, though.

        • Fred 2.1.1.2

          Personal tax up to 50%?

          You are kidding me I hope. What do you hope to fund with this exactly?

  3. seth 3

    The Sam Morgan thing is a complete Strawman. It was an out of context interview applied to something else.

    Trademe pays millions in tax a year and creates hundreds of jobs. Without Sam Morgan, the trademe culture in NZ would be nothing. eBay never took off here, and its quite likely that nothing else would’ve been there in its place, and been as successful. Even though he no longer owns trademe, saying he pays no tax is rubbish, when he is responsible for millions of dollars a year in tax, and hundreds of jobs. This is before you even start to calculate the RWT he is paying on his millions of dollars.

    • Lanthanide 3.1

      Ebay never took off because Trademe got in first.

      Frankly ebay is hideous anyway. Letting sellers have free-form control over their auction layout and style makes ebay into a horrid mish-mash of geocities garishness that belongs in the dustbin. There are some things that ebay does better, and a few really annoying restrictions about trademe, but in general trademe is much more pleasant to shop from because everything follows a uniform layout.

    • Bunji 3.2

      trade me took off because Sam Morgan saw that ebay was yet another foreign technology company (others include Apple) that was neglecting NZ, grabbed the opportunity, and created a better product. Well done that man.

      The fact that Sam Morgan, a prime candidate to pay lots of capital gains tax, strongly supports it, seeing it as helping solve the problems I outline, is relevant to NZ tax discourse whatever context the original interview was in. Sure it took 3 months for journos to pick up the ‘scoop’, but that is just evident of how much our media has been run down in this country; they’re not the fourth estate they could be (and shows how important it is that we get a well-funded public broadcaster, as evidently the private ones can’t pick up the slack).

      re the RWT: Sam Morgan ends up claiming the vast majority of his tax back because of his large amount of charitable giving. Which probably shouldn’t be complained about (although he could always charitably give to our government as well, they do quite a few good works for society…).

  4. wtl 4

    Actually, if you are buying and selling houses, shares etc. for the sole purpose of making a capital gain, then you are supposed to declare the gain as income and pay tax on it. However, I’m not sure how well this rule is enforced. I remember some noises being made about the IRD intending to clamp down on traders such as this but I’m not sure whether it is happening or not.

    Of course a more comprehensive CGT would catch a larger number or people and be easy to enforce (as it is less ambiguous). But I don’t see it happening as long National oppose it – they will not put one in place when they are in government and Labour won’t dare to either as National will find it very easy to spin as ‘bad’. Plus, I’m not sure a CGT is the answer – a land tax or something similar might be more effective as it penalises people holding on to unproductive assets.

  5. Terry 5

    Bunji, you have my vote.

    How do you propose we implement it, given that
    most parliamentarians own more than one house ?

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Building Auckland’s transport future
    We’re making sure Auckland has the infrastructure it needs for the future, so Aucklanders can get around safely and efficiently as our biggest city grows. The new, linked-up transport system we’re building will include partially tunnelled light rail between the CBD and the airport, as well as another Waitematā Harbour ...
    2 hours ago
  • Build Auckland light rail for benefit of everyone
    The Government’s decision on light rail in Auckland is the first step towards building the climate friendly, accessible city our communities deserve. ...
    2 hours ago
  • Put our most vulnerable first
    Don’t forget whānau and communities most at risk, says the Green Party, as the Government lays out its three-phase plan for Omicron. ...
    2 days ago
  • Boosting our immunity against Omicron
    With Omicron in the community, it’s vital we all do our bit to help to slow the spread, keep each other safe and protect our health system. One of the most important ways we can reduce the risk of Omicron is to get a booster dose as soon as we’re ...
    2 days ago
  • Equitable response to Omicron vital
    The Green Party supports the Government’s decision to move Aotearoa New Zealand to traffic light level Red at 11.59pm tonight, but says its success will depend on the support that is made available to the most vulnerable. ...
    5 days ago
  • How we’re preparing for Omicron
    As countries around the world experience Omicron outbreaks, we’re taking steps now to ensure we’re as prepared as possible and our communities are protected. ...
    1 week ago
  • What’s Labour achieved so far?
    Quite a bit! This Government was elected to take on the toughest issues facing Aotearoa – and that’s what we’re doing. Since the start of the pandemic, protecting lives and livelihoods has been a priority, but we’ve also made progress on long-term challenges, to deliver a future the next generation ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Tackling the big issues in 2022
    This year, keeping Kiwis safe from COVID will remain a key priority of the Government – but we’re also pushing ahead on some of New Zealand’s biggest long-term challenges. In 2022, we’re working to get more Kiwis into homes, reduce emissions, lift children out of poverty, and ensure people get ...
    2 weeks ago

  • Penguin rehab and native forest restoration get helping hand
    A long-running penguin rehab facility which has been hard hit by the tourism downturn, and work to restore native forest habitats in the Catlins are being supported through Jobs for Nature funding, Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says. Otago’s Penguin Place and The Hokonui Rūnanga Catlins Biodiversity Project will receive combined ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Resilient economy reflected in Crown accounts
    The Government’s financial accounts continue to reflect a resilient economy that has performed better than expected and puts the country in a strong position to respond to Omicron, Grant Robertson said. The Crown Accounts for the five months to the end of November were more favourable than forecast in the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Government announces three phase public health response to Omicron
    Reducing isolation period for cases and close contacts at Phase Two and Three to 10 and seven days Definition of close contact required to isolate changes to household or household like contacts at Phase Three Increased use of rapid antigen tests with test to return policy put in place for ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • New Ambassador to Thailand announced
    Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta today announced the appointment of Jonathan Kings as New Zealand’s next Ambassador to Thailand. “Aotearoa New Zealand has a long-standing relationship with Thailand, celebrating the 65th anniversary of diplomatic representation between our countries in 2021. We also share much in common at regional and multilateral levels ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Government’s Family Package continues to deliver for New Zealanders
    The Families Package helped around 330,000 families in its first year - more than half of all families with children in NZ These families received an estimated $55 per week more from Families Package payments in 2018/19 than in 2017/18, on average Families Package increases to the maximum possible Accommodation ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • New Zealand retains top spot in global anti-corruption rankings
    Justice Minister Kris Faafoi has welcomed news of New Zealand’s ongoing position as top in the world anti-corruption rankings. The 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index released by global anti-corruption organisation, Transparency International, ranks New Zealand first equal with Denmark and Finland, with a score of 88 out of 100. “This is an ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Testing improvements see New Zealand well prepared for Omicron
    New Zealand’s PCR testing capacity can be increased by nearly 20,000 tests per day to deal with a surge in cases as part of our wider COVID-19 testing strategy, Associate Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall said. “We have continued to adapt our public health response to safeguard the health ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • 5,000 portable air cleaners for schools on their way
    As schools are preparing to return, Education Minister Chris Hipkins has announced 5,000 air cleaners have been ordered for New Zealand schools. “As we know, along with vaccination, testing, good hygiene and physical distancing, good ventilation is important in minimising the risk of airborne transmission of the virus that causes ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • New Zealand to move to Red from 11.59pm today
    All of New Zealand will move to the Red setting of the Covid Protection Framework (CPF) at 11:59pm today as Omicron is potentially now transmitting in the community, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says. “Nine COVID-19 cases reported yesterday in the Nelson/Marlborough region are now confirmed as Omicron, and a further ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Mandatory boosters for key workforces progressing well
    More than 5,785 (82%) border workers eligible for a booster vaccination at 6 months have received it so far, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says. “That’s a really strong uptake considering we announced the requirement the week before Christmas, but we need to continue this momentum,” Chris Hipkins said. “We ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • NZ to move to Red
    Nine COVID-19 cases reported yesterday in the Nelson/Marlborough region have now been confirmed as the Omicron variant, and a further case from the same household was confirmed late yesterday. These cases are in a single family that flew to Auckland on 13 January to attend a wedding and other events ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • New Zealand to provide further help for Tonga
    Aotearoa New Zealand is giving an additional $2 million in humanitarian funding for Tonga as the country recovers from a volcanic eruption and tsunami last weekend, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Defence Minister Peeni Henare said today. This brings Aotearoa New Zealand’s contribution to $3 million. “This support will ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Quarterly benefit numbers show highest number of exits into work
    The Government’s strong focus on supporting more people into work is reflected in benefit figures released today which show a year-on-year fall of around 21,300 people receiving a main benefit in the December 2021 quarter, Minister for Social Development and Employment Carmel Sepuloni said. “Our response to COVID has helped ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Northland to move to Orange, NZ prepared for Omicron 
    Northland to move to Orange Rest of New Zealand stays at Orange in preparedness for Omicron All of New Zealand to move into Red in the event of Omicron community outbreak – no use of lockdowns Govt planning well advanced – new case management, close contact definition and testing rules ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • RNZAF C-130 Hercules flight departs for Tonga as Navy vessels draw nearer to Tongatapu
    A Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules has departed Base Auckland Whenuapai for Tonga carrying aid supplies, as the New Zealand aid effort ramps up, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Defence Minister Peeni Henare said today. “The aircraft is carrying humanitarian aid and disaster relief supplies, including water ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand prepared to send support to Tonga
    New Zealand is ready to assist Tonga in its recovery from Saturday night’s undersea eruption and tsunami, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Defence Minister Peeni Henare said today. “Following the successful surveillance and reconnaissance flight of a New Zealand P-3K2 Orion on Monday, imagery and details have been sent ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Aotearoa New Zealand stands ready to assist people of Tonga
    The thoughts of New Zealanders are with the people of Tonga following yesterday’s undersea volcanic eruption and subsequent tsunami waves, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta says. “Damage assessments are under way and New Zealand has formally offered to provide assistance to Tonga,” said Nanaia Mahuta. New Zealand has made an ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Record high of new homes consented continues
    In the year ended November 2021, 48,522 new homes were consented, up 26 per cent from the November 2020 year. In November 2021, 4,688 new dwellings were consented. Auckland’s new homes consented numbers rose 25 per cent in the last year. Annual figures for the last nine months show more ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Report trumpets scope for ice cream exports
    Latest research into our premium ice cream industry suggests exporters could find new buyers in valuable overseas markets as consumers increasingly look for tip top quality in food. Economic Development Minister Stuart Nash has released a new report for the Food and Beverage Information Project. The project is run by ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Honouring the legacy of legendary kaumātua Muriwai Ihakara
    Associate Minister for Arts, Culture, and Heritage Kiri Allan expressed her great sadness and deepest condolences at the passing of esteemed kaumātua, Muriwai Ihakara. “Muriwai’s passing is not only a loss for the wider creative sector but for all of Aotearoa New Zealand. The country has lost a much beloved ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Have your say on proposed changes to make drinking water safer
    Associate Minister for the Environment Kiri Allan is urging all New Zealanders to give feedback on proposed changes aimed at making drinking water safer. “The current regulations are not fit for purpose and don’t offer enough protection, particularly for those whose water comes from smaller supplies,” Kiri Allan said. “This ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Planting the seeds for rewarding careers
    A boost in funding for a number of Jobs for Nature initiatives across Canterbury will provide sustainable employment opportunities for more than 70 people, Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says. “The six projects are diverse, ranging from establishing coastline trapping in Kaikōura, to setting up a native plant nursery, restoration planting ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago