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Celebrity Debate: Will a Universal Transaction Tax benefit the NZ economy?

Written By: - Date published: 7:29 am, November 17th, 2016 - 56 comments
Categories: Economy - Tags: , , , , , ,

Jane Kelsey

The New Lynn Labour Electorate Committee is hosting a debate this Friday where the subject is whether a Universal Transaction Tax, also known as a Robin Hood tax, would benefit the economy.

Because of a family bereavement David Cunliffe will not be able to attend. In his place will be Peter Nielson, former Labour MP and economist and former CEO of the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development. Other members of the team arguing the affirmative will be Jane Kelsey, Social Conscience Extraordinaire, and progressive Economist and commentator Rod Oram.

Arguing for the negative will be Deborah Russell, Tax Lecturer blogger and future Labour MP, Nigel Haworth who is the President of the Labour Party and Shamubeel Eaqub who is a well known Economist and media commentator.

It promises to be a very entertaining and stimulating event.

Tickets are $75.00. Concessions rates for members apply. All proceeds to the New Lynn LEC.

Contact Clare Hargrave hargrave@ihug.co.nz 021496 092 or Raema Inglis spingles@clear.net.nz 021 208 0725 for further details. Facebook details are here.

Not wishing to prejudge the issue but …

56 comments on “Celebrity Debate: Will a Universal Transaction Tax benefit the NZ economy?”

  1. Ad 1

    That’s a really interesting lineup.
    Sorry I can’t be there for that one.
    50th birthday in Wellington.

  2. dv 2

    Why can’t we have a Tobin tax on money movement?
    It the money analogue to GST.

    • Bob 2.1

      +1
      That would seem to me to be the fairest, and easiest to track form of tax, especially now that we are closer to a cashless society.

      We could then scrap several other forms of tax (PAYE, Company tax, GST etc).

      I can’t see any political party running with it though, it’s not progressive enough for the ‘Left’, and too hard to avoid tax for financial backers of parties on the ‘Right’.

      • Nic the NZer 2.1.1

        If you implement an effective financial transaction tax the point is rather not to gather revenue, its to dissuade the transactions from occurring. If the tax gathers significant revenue its a failure.

        In this way its similar to speed cameras. If people are speeding and paying the fines then there is a definite case the fines should be higher because the point of the cameras is to stop people speeding, not to earn money!

        • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1.1.1

          Where did you hear that? The last time I heard, no level of taxation ever deterred anyone from making a profit.

          • rocco siffred 2.1.1.1.1

            Sweden introduced a transaction tax in 1984. Futures trading dropped by 98% and options trading stopped completely. The tax only raised 5% of what was expected.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1.1.1.1.1

              The revenue of the Swiss transfer tax was CHF 1.9 billion in 2007 or 0.37% of GDP

              Wikipedia. Oh, did you expect me to take your words at face value? Sweden’s model (” widely considered a failure by design”*) didn’t work as well, so that’s the one you cherry-pick. lol

              *Do you always approach debate with such bad faith?

              • Rocco Siffredi

                ” Sweden’s model (” widely considered a failure by design”*) didn’t work as well, so that’s the one you cherry-pick. lol”

                I chose it because it specifically refuted your claim;

                “The last time I heard, no level of taxation ever deterred anyone from making a profit.”

                Futures and options trading stopped over, the tax stop everyone making a profit in this way. You claim is incorrect.

                “*Do you always approach debate with such bad faith?”

                What do this mean exactly? You make a claim, I refute it, you post some bullshit about ‘bad faith’.

                • Clump_AKA Sam

                  Ok. But in New Zealand. LVRs are forcing banks to hold 20% deposits in reserve, those reserves stagnate pushing the OCR up and pushes our exports up, with out away to clear reserves interest rates turn negative and that’s where we are heading, further fueling speculation and the vicious cycle continues, if you don’t want to use tax to clear reserves, fine, use the courts, if not the courts then shut up and put up with rising property prices.

                  • Nic the NZer

                    You have this very wrong. The OCR is set by comittee at the reserve bank. Its never pushed anywhere by whatever level of reserves are in the system.

                    On the other hand if the banks have surplus reserves they can lend them between each other. The aggregate interest rate at which they do so is called the ninty day bills rate. If there is more reserves than required that rate is likely to fall. This is often not what the reserve bank wants so the reserve bank will often take action to prevent this eg remove the reserves from the system through open market operations.

                    LVRs have next to nothing to do with any of this.

                    • Clump_AKA Sam

                      The problem is reserve bank officials think they have control over the system which they don’t. It’s only a problem when you think new money can be created like digging for gold.

                    • Nic the NZer []

                      Anybody who thinks that should be informed that new spending can be created at will by the govt (via its reserve bank) at the cost of marking up an account entry on a computer.

                      In fact this is how govt spending occurs or reserves are loaned by the reserve bank (with interest due at the official cash rate) which is still set by a committee.

                      What is the difficult part of economics is not that at all but the question of what effects there are on prices (including asset prices) of spending, taxation or interest rate decisions.

                    • Clump_AKA Sam

                      I was waiting for a reply but can’t wait any longer.

                      All this is fantasy, it’s got nothing to do with reality, in reality reserve bank policy was used to say capitalism is better than communism and bash unions with, so wages went down, now we are trying to boost everything reserve bank policy suppressed for the last 30 years and we’re still waiting for the fruits of those policies.

                      So now we want to change all this with a tax. But the problem with using a fantasy model is it all falls apart.

                  • Clump_AKA Sam

                    What boggles the mind is theoretical economists inside the reserve bank who leave banks debt and money out of there thinking, because only people can physically reach in and remove reserves. It’s fundamental

                    • Nic the NZer

                      Well i agree this is not coherent. But its important to understand what that argument is. It is that (eventually) if left to its own devices the economy will reach a state of full resource use with ‘real’ price ratios (including wages) and that any spending policy can only cause a change in the headline inflation rates but not those price ratios. You can see why that would be an appealing fact. But its flatly wrong.

                      For example if the govt decided to lift employment rates leading to more wage competition and higher wage rates at the lower end then this would clearly reduce wage inequality and these real price ratios (the relative wage rates) would be different (probably more progressive).

                      If your economic model has such flaws then its just plain old garbage in garbage out. People should challenge the assumptions of such models and their policy implications and forecasts.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  Nic asserted that an FTT is a deterrent. That you can only find one “designed to fail” black swan in support, says something about that assertion.

                  My rebuttal stands, unless you have more black swans for whom the dye doesn’t run.

                  • Nic the NZer

                    Actually what i asserted is that any such tax cant both collect much revenue and deter the transactions being taxed. Are you actually disputing the banal truth of that?

                    I thought the idea of this policy was to deter speculation. Or do we want more speculation (and the instability that brings) as long as the govt gets a minescule cut of the action?

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Whereas in my book, untaxed profit creates market distortions (cf: Auckland housing), and on top of that, an FTT is a chance for bankers to better participate in and contribute to society.

                    • Clump_AKA Sam

                      What we really want is assurances that taxes will raise living standards above the poverty line.

            • pat 2.1.1.1.1.2

              “The UK stanp duty falls on shares. If you sell a share of a UK-registered company, you pay a small FTT of 0.5% on the transaction regardless of where you are in the world. So, it’s an easy tax to implement and difficult to avoid.

              However, the Swedish FTT was only imposed on transactions which took place in Sweden. If the transaction involved a Swedish company but was made outside of Sweden, the transaction was exempt from the tax. This meant that many trades were simply made elsewhere to avoid paying the tax, regardless of whether they involved Swedish registered companies.

              Ultimately, the Swedish FTT was badly designed and therefore not very effective. But to say that just because there were flaws in the Swedish FTT that all FTTs won’t work is a bit of a slippery slope argument that doesn’t really work.”

              http://www.robinhoodtax.org/blog-entry/what-can-we-learn-swedish-ftt

              might be a good reason for that.

          • Nic the NZer 2.1.1.1.2

            Thanks rocco siffred. Yes AOB in the real world (rather than some marxist rhetorical fantasy world, or wherever your statement comes from) we should anticipate the same kind of outcome as happened in Sweden.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1.1.1.2.1

              Warren Buffett is a Marxist?

              • Nic the NZer

                Don’t know. Is he?

                It seems obvious now how to apply this quote (if we assume its fully correct). 98% of Swedish Futures trades vanished, What Buffet said applies to the other 2% of remaining profitable trades (after the tax is imposed).

            • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1.1.1.2.2

              Oh, and the fact that your witless imagination is so stunted that you think I’m a Marxist leaves me wondering in what other areas you are full to the brim.

              What’s with the dyslexia?

            • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1.1.1.2.3

              1. Either you took Rocco’s comment at face value, in which case you’re a fool, or
              2. You knew he was commenting in bad faith and went along with it anyway, in which case you’re a liar.

              Which is it?

              • Nic the NZer

                Your clearly an idiot. In this instance for accusing rocco of showing bad faith simply because the Wiki article he probably took facts from contains a single negative sentence of opinion (that Swedens policy was a failure be design). Rocco stuck to facts however.

                If you are actually that thin skinned you should probably stay of the internet.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  Nope, it contains plenty more, where Sweden’s experience is concerned, and plenty more info on other countries in which the sky has not fallen either.

                  Perhaps reading it would help you not look foolish. It’s the article called “financial transaction tax”. Do you need help to find it?

        • Bob 2.1.1.2

          I may have taken dv the wrong way here, the financial transaction tax that I am referring too is the taxation of every digital transaction. If I get paid my salary a small fraction of that money will be set aside by the banks to be paid as tax, then when I buy a coffee another small fraction will be set aside by the banks to be paid as tax. This way, would mean no requirement for PAYE, GST, CGT etc. as every transaction would automatically be taxed.
          The beauty of this is that speculators would end up paying the most tax, and any offshore companies offering their services in NZ (like Netflix for example), would automatically be taxed as they are being paid in NZD.

          That’s my simplistic take on it anyway.

          • Rae 2.1.1.2.1

            And described pretty much perfectly.

          • Nic the NZer 2.1.1.2.2

            You need to look at the history on implementation of similar policies then. Revenue gathering is of course not that important an activity anyway but the likely revenues from such a FTT are unlikely to facilitate much difference in GST or PAYE rates.

            On the other hand the present day govt does not need to have a GST tax at all. They would do some good by just abolishing it with no other changes to the tax system.

            But a FTT is about disuading certain trades and cant therefore be expected to gather revenue. In practice you cant tax people for doing something they have not been doing.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1.1.2.2.1

              Yes, look at the history. Wikipedia’s article on Financial Transaction Tax is a good place to start. It list the countries that have various versions of the tax, but curiously doesn’t report that the sky has fallen in a single one of them.

              Personally, I think Nic gives the impression of having a conflict of interest in this matter.

              • Nic the NZer

                You will have to excuse me for pointing this out but why are you assuming that I think disuading a massive proportion of speculative trades is a failure? That is what the tax attempts to achieve is it not? All i pointed out is that this does not collect much revenue if it succeeds. All you have pointed out again is that you are none too good at reading anything without imposing your assumptions onto other peoples comments.

              • Bob

                OAB, don’t tell me we are on the same side of an argument…

          • dv 2.1.1.2.3

            Yes that is what I mean.
            Interestig as well is the visa charge is about 2% and that doesnt cause too much reduction in CC turn over.

  3. save nz 3

    Totally for a robin hood tax! Exactly what NZ (and the world) needs. If the governments don’t do that and keep taking from the poor and middle class to give to the super rich who don’t seem to need to pay any taxes with the amount of concessions they have successfully lobbied for, then we are getting global unrest and reaction like Brexit and Trump.

    Bernie Sanders advocated for the Robin hood tax which was part of his popularity, Clinton was tarnished by her close relationship with banks and wall street and it has led to Trump, draining the swamp campaign. Whether he does this remains to be seen, but their is a clear message coming from the voters now, neoliberalism is not working and we will not vote for those who support it.

    Robin Hood tax could be a good ‘big ticket’ item for Labour and Greens to win the next election on. Raise money from banks NOT tax the middle class to pay for social spending. I’m pretty sure that will be a winner and something ex Meryl Lynch Key will turn in his grave over and be a point of difference.

    • Stunned mullet 3.1

      “Raise money from banks NOT tax the middle class to pay for social spending.”

      ..and watch the banks pass the cost back to their customer base or move their business which is most at risk from the ‘Tobin Tax’ offshore.

      • save nz 3.1.1

        Well we can all move to Kiwibank or TSB then if they get too greedy.

        And I think it will more target the super rich who actually pay the micro tax and they will not even notice it’s more the shock of actually having to pay something!

      • Ch-ch Chiquita 3.1.2

        Oh, no, not that excuse of ‘move their business’. If a bank does not like this tax they can close their business and let other banks have those customers and profit. What will these banks do when this tax will be worldwide?

        And if they pass the cost back to the customers than I have no problem with it – we are talking about transactions that only people with good reserves of money make. So let them pay.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 3.1.3

        That’s what’s called “an opening in the market”.

  4. greywarshark 4

    Someone tells us how it went and who won please?

  5. The Lone Haranguer 5

    I read that as the debate is tomorrow Greywarshark.

    Hopefully at some stage the debate will turn up on You Tube or somewhere like that where the rest of us can see it.

    I agree with Save NZ, properly explained, it could be an election winner – hey the Donald won his election against everyones predictions, and Brexit happened against everyones predictions, so change is in the air. It just needs decent and passionate leadership. Winston?

    But Im sure the banking and finance folk will be vocally and financially opposed and will paint a “financial Armageddon” type picture – capital flight from NZ etc etc

    • Bob 5.1

      The Mana party have had it as policy for the last two elections without much traction:
      http://www.interest.co.nz/news/53233/harawira-calls-1-financial-transaction-hone-heke-tax-replace-gst-make-rich-pay-their-fair
      http://mana.org.nz/

      And the Greens had this as policy for the last election at least:
      https://www.greens.org.nz/page/economic-policy

      I am surprised the Greens haven’t focused on this further in their campaigning, as it is a great rebuttal to the “how are you going to pay for it” argument.

      EDIT: The Greens did have it as policy for the 2011 election, interesting that I only remember Mana actually campaigning on it that year.

      • save nz 5.1.1

        Last election the Greens and Labour unsuccessfully campaigned on more property taxes and raising the age of retirement. Was not popular and allowed Natz back in. I also do not remember Greens having the Robin Hood tax, but do remember their constant debates on property taxes being increased.

        MSM and Natz encouraged all the property tax talk, everyday the herald had some couple who could not afford a house and people writing in saying they demand capital gains. Of course come election day, it was revealed that this was not popular, most people think other factors are driving up prices like migration and it was a kick in the guts to hear that the left parties thought people should work longer before retirement especially when someone who has never paid any taxes walks in with 10 million dollars, buys up land and then walks away scott free.

        I think the Robin Hood tax at banks is clearly going to be more popular and is more targeted at the rich who can afford it.

        • Bob 5.1.1.1

          “I think the Robin Hood tax at banks is clearly going to be more popular and is more targeted at the rich who can afford it”
          I completely agree, but I just get the sneaking suspicion many here would disagree as it it isn’t a progressive tax (the same way GST isn’t progressive and is widely despised).
          If a Robin Hood tax, or more specifically, a tax on all financial transactions were to be implemented at the expense of PAYE and GST I could see this being a huge vote winner. PAYE and GST both target the lower to middle/working class, the ‘Rich’ tend to hide their money within company and trust structures, this could flip that balance.

      • mikesh 5.1.2

        The policy originated with Social Credit. It was adopted by the Alliance when DSC joined them, and the Greens probably took it with them when they left the Alliance.

        UBI, ridding ourselves of fractional reserve banking, and now the transactions tax. All the best ideas seem to have originated with Social Credit.

        • b waghorn 5.1.2.1

          my old man was a social credit voter (died young unfortunately) seeing things differently must be genetic

      • greywarshark 5.1.3

        The Lone H

        change is in the air. It just needs decent and passionate leadership. Winston?

        I like your old fashioned style Lone H. But coming after the talk about Trump and the USA and Brexit and UKIP and that lot, I don’t think decent comes into the analysis. Passionate yes, but I’ll pass-on that adjective, it’s for airheads these days.

    • dv 5.2

      >>capital flight from NZ etc etc
      Ha but it will be taxed as it leaves!!!!

      • Clump_AKA Sam 5.2.1

        We’ll end up with some kind of transaction tax anyway because when some one try’s to attack the kiwi dollar by selling it regulative authorities need away of defending New Zealands interests.

    • Nic the NZer 5.3

      “But Im sure the banking and finance folk will be vocally and financially opposed and will paint a “financial Armageddon” type picture – capital flight from NZ etc etc”

      But the obvious question is what good is your NZ$ capital doing for you overseas? If on the other hand the capital flight is happening via the foreign exchange markets then flight never happens. Somebody has exchanged their NZ$ for foreign currency and the NZ$ capital stays in NZ (but in somebody else’s hands).

      NZ has almost no need to be competitive in this area in fact because if there is a significant opportunity overseas then it is already quite easy for a bank to replicate its operations there to take advantage of it, simply expanding rather than shifting. This implies that actually such low hanging opportunities don’t exist and the insignificant level of such a tax will not cause a significant change there.

      Its actually a significant risk for NZ’s domestic banks to have significant investments in foreign currency denominations because in contrast to the NZ$ denominated assets the RBNZ can not easily replenish such reserves (if that became necessary). For the NZ$ funds bailouts are possible (though not desirable) but for foreign funds rescue becomes much more difficult.

  6. billmurray 6

    Is it not a fact that without tax, a country would fall apart and anarchy would reign.

    How taxation “take” is fixed is a endless polemic and is mind numbing to most people.

    To get to a reasonable answer on tax, ask what interests the participants are representing.

    I do not have endless time.

  7. adam 7

    Thinking about this, on minimum wage that’s 5 hours pay out of the week before tax to go to this event. So lets say, 6 hours. So not a event for working people, the under employed, disabled or the poor then. If that the case why is this a post here?

    • Henry Filth 7.1

      Because not all readers are under-employed, disabled, working, or poor.

      And because it sounds interesting.

  8. save nz 8

    “We tend to think that simply giving people money makes them lazy. Yet a wealth of scientific research proves the contrary: free money helps. It is time for a radical reform of the welfare state.
    Why we should give free money to everyone”

    https://thecorrespondent.com/541/why-we-should-give-free-money-to-everyone/31639050894-e44e2c00

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