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Heroic cynicism

Written By: - Date published: 6:58 am, March 30th, 2011 - 140 comments
Categories: Economy - Tags:

I see there is a call for “heroic” student loan holders overseas to help pay for the Christchurch earthquake. When I first saw this I thought it was an interesting idea then I saw that the IRD has set up a page and a process for it and realised this has the government’s backing.

At a time when company tax is just about to be dropped again, and it is becoming apparent that last year’s tax cuts for the rich are unfordable, putting the guilts on people with student loans to help pay for the Christchurch earthquake seems less like heroics and more like cynicism.

But I might just be looking at things too cynically myself. That’s why I’d like to start a campaign for all of those who got tax cuts to write a cheque for the difference between their cuts and the rise in gst and mail it to IRD (sorry the government won’t set up an IRD page for me):

Inland Revenue
PO Box 39050
Wellington Mail Centre
Lower Hutt 5045

Or even better yet the government could just reverse the tax cuts for the rich and use that to pay for Christchurch. Or is it only heroic when people who can’t afford to pay are the ones who do? Because if it is then Bill English is looking to make heroes of a lot of poor bastards this year.

140 comments on “Heroic cynicism ”

  1. Pascal's bookie 1

    Also, ‘family trusts’.

  2. PeteG 2

    Shouldn’t student loans be repaid anyway? A lot of graduates head overseas to earn money to do just that.

    …tax cuts for the rich and use that to pay for Christchurch.

    The tax cuts affect people who live in, have businesses in and invest in Christchurch. They might help the recovery a bit, and putting taxes up for “the rich” will make it harder for those most able to invest in rebuilding Christchurch.

    • IrishBill 2.1

      Trickle down eh? Never heard that one before.

    • Akldnut 2.2

      Trickling down my arse Pete – thats what these pricks are doing to us, we’re being screwed.

    • KJT 2.3

      As tax cuts since the 80’s have resulted in investment in productive business in NZ dropping to 1/3 of its level in the 70’s I think business customers in NZ having decent incomes will do more to encourage investment.

    • Colonial Viper 2.4

      PeteG is a Right Wing Moron

      Monies dedicated by companies and shareholders into rebuilding work would be considered a business expense.

      It would not be taxed as profits anyway.

      PeteG is advocating that rich people get more money in their pockets for no effort. This is probably because that many of the wealthy have figured out that taking a dollar back from the public purse this is the easiest way to make a buck. Not doing anything actually productive.

      Good one mate.

      • PeteG 2.4.1

        PeteG is advocating that rich people get more money in their pockets for no effort.

        I haven’t advocated that, you’re making things up again.

        And you’re forgetting that if a company (or partnership or sole trader) makes no profit – and tax levels are a factor in that – they have less to re-invest into rebuilding, and are less likely to continue trading.

        (bearing in mind the last paragraph of the topic)

        • KJT

          The fact that under Ruthanasia and Keys cuts my customers have no discretionary income, to use my services, have had much more of a negative effect on my business than taxes ever did.

          • Chess Player

            You must be in the wrong business – try offering something people need, rather than want. That way you aren’t relying on discretionary income…

        • ZeeBop

          Shouldn’t student loans be repaid anyway? A lot of graduates head overseas to earn money to do just that.

          Yes, NO! Graduates who believe that they were forced to go overseas to pay off their loans would have a case in the world human rights court. In fact in response to the demand of their government to pay the money back immediately – clearly another slander of their collective names – that they don’t live here so they need to prove their allegiance to the state!

          Seriously though, graduates actually went overseas because the economy here can produce graduates for jobs that don’t exist here, or pay enough. But that would make the woeful government by right wing economic ideology all to real. When both major parties got neo-liberalism democracy and our economy began its decline even further.

          The government have a responsibility to write off student loans because of government failure to create jobs that graduates could get so they could pay them off. If someone cannot find a job that pays enough within 10 years the loan should be written off. Just think about it, being in your mid thirties with a large loan that you will never pay off and are even further behind the cohort of friends in getting a home, etc.

          When did the right start hating individual rights?

          • Draco T Bastard

            When did the right start hating individual rights?

            When everyone else started to demand them. They’re quite quite happy for them to have individual rights just not so happy that everyone else have them as well.

        • Draco T Bastard

          And you’re forgetting that if a company (or partnership or sole trader) makes no profit – and tax levels are a factor in that – they have less to re-invest into rebuilding, and are less likely to continue trading.

          Business expenses aren’t taxed. This means that a business can spend all it’s surplus income on expenses (ie, rebuilding) and pay no tax. A business is only taxed if it keeps it’s surplus income (ie, sole trader has income of $40k but has a taxable income of $7k after expenses).
          What this means is that the business tax cuts make no difference to business reinvestment in itself.

          • Jared

            Partially Correct. Businesses can expense anything that isn’t capital, so even rebuilding isn’t tax deductible, repairs and maintenance are deductible if they aren’t an improvement.

    • Marty G 2.5

      Student loans must be repaid eventually, yes. So the gain for the government isn’t as large as it might appear. Student loans apart on the government’s books as assets worth about 60% of their face value -discounted because they’re interest-free. So, if you pay $10k today, rather than over the expected time frame, the gain to the government is only 4k.

      • Lanthanide 2.5.1

        There’s also the 10% bonus, so if you pay $10k today, they only get $3k in benefit.

        All payments from people living overseas count as voluntary, and so all receive the 10% bonus as well (which will actually go towards paying for their interest anyway).

        • Lanthanide

          Actually looks like I’m wrong on the overseas payment thing. There are minimum amounts you are expected to pay each year, depending on your taxable income (highest is $3,000). Then any amount in addition to this minimum is considered to be a voluntary payment that attracts the 10% bonus.

          This is still a bit different to being in NZ, though, where here you will pay 10% of your income over $19,084 (National haven’t changed this threshold in 3 years now, whereas Labour increased it by $400-500 each year) and get no bonus. So someone overseas might pay 10% of their income over $19,084, and for dollar over $3,000 that they pay, they get a 10% bonus, whereas people in NZ don’t.

    • millsy 2.6

      Hey Peter,

      How many hospitals did National close after cutting taxes in 96?

      How many hospitals did Labour close after increasing taxes in 1999?

      Dont public services and infrastructure mean anything to you. I think they are more imporatant than any plutocrat.

    • Ari 2.7

      Actually, no, they shouldn’t. We have a policy principle of free education that we should be living up to. =/

  3. higherstandard 3

    I agree with a considered rise in taxes in the current environment, I also think we should spend less.

    A few questions

    What would putting the tax back up raise per annum ?

    What would putting interest back on student loans raise per annum ?

    How much is current student debt ? last I heard it was around 10 billion

    • lprent 3.1

      They were talking about $2 bn on NatRad 9 to noon at just after 9am yesterday. You can probably look it up. At a guess that will be the overdue debt.

      • Marty G 3.1.1

        The $2 billion is student debt owed by kiwis overseas.

        How much putting interest back on the total debt depends on what the rate is. But if it was the government’s cost of borrowing – 5% – it would be about $500 million, which is less than the value of the tax cuts to the richest kiwis.

        And consider the costs. you would make tertiary education unaffordable for many – making the barrier to education the size of daddy’s cheque book instead of merit is wasteful. Also, consider interest on student loans as an effective tax – it’s not based on ability to pay and it will force more graduates overseas. Also, If you want to pay less income tax you can earn less, if you want a lower rates bill you can live in a cheaper house, less consumption means less gst. But to reduce this new tax you have to do something positive , find more cash to pay back your loan.

        • Lanthanide

          “Also, If you want to pay less income tax you can earn less”
          I don’t think that’s a reasonable choice that anyone actually makes, though, except in right-wingers fantasies.

          No one says “damn, I’m sick of paying $10k income tax, I want to only pay $8k instead so I’ll work less”. What people are interested in is after-tax discretionary income, and the only (legitimate) way to pay less tax is to earn less, in which case you also have less after-tax discretionary income.

          Spending less on GST attracting activities or living in a cheaper house increases your discretionary income, but reducing your income tax (legitimately) also decreases your discretionary income.

          • Bright Red

            I think Marty’s point is you can avoid having to pay any normal tax by a negative action. To avoid student loan interest if you already have the debt, you need to have the wherewithal to do something positive – repay the loan.

            • Lanthanide

              I realise that. But he accidentally voiced a variant of a ring-wing mantra, that somehow by being taxed a small amount less someone is going to be “encouraged” to work more.

              Really the only disincentive to working in this manner is abatement rates from welfare (including WFF), which is little affected by tweaking the tax rate by 5%.

  4. PeteG 4

    Does anyone know if Labour has done any analysis on the likely effects of bumping tax rates back up on things like:
    – private sector levels of investment in rebuilding Christchurch
    – number of businesses that may decide not to continue in Christchurch
    – number of workers who may decide to leave, eg to Australia
    – how easy it will be to attract skilled workers to Christchurch to help rebuild?

    • lprent 4.1

      Bearing in mind the actual topic, I would be more interested in what the IRD expects to get back from the student debt using these practices.

      The problem with tax calcs is that back of the envelope calcs are pretty useless based on past examples. You absolutely need to get treasury analysis, and that itself is merely less inaccurate.

      But the IRD has presumably done such an analysis on this exercise before committing Bill English’s scarce resources

    • KJT 4.2

      – “private sector levels of investment in rebuilding Christchurch”

      See my comment above. Government spending on temporary and permanent housing, as in Darwin/Japan is more likely to help investment in Christchurch. For this we need tax income so we do not have to keep borrowing.

      – “number of businesses that may decide not to continue in Christchurch”


      – “number of workers who may decide to leave, eg to Australia”

      Already gone Mate! No point in having a tax decrease when your wages have gone down 40% and costs for things that are corporatised go up more than the decrease.

      – “how easy it will be to attract skilled workers to Christchurch to help rebuild?”

      May have to pay tradesmen real income for that.
      You will hear the screams from Lawyers, Accountants and politicians who charge out at Hundreds of dollars an hour when they have to pay a tradesperson $50.

      What will happen though is NACT will bypass using skilled tradespeople to cut costs. Causing a Christchurch version of the leaky homes scandal in a few years time.

      • Draco T Bastard 4.2.1

        May have to pay tradesmen real income for that.

        Believe me, there’s no “may” about it. My nephew (a builder) was looking at going down after the first earthquake but no ones paying enough to make it worth his while. In fact, at the rates being offered, he’d lose money.

  5. Muzza 5

    We’re getting cuts in spending to pay for the rebuild. The business groups of Japan are saying they don’t need a tax cut now, spend it on the rebuild instead.

    Some how I doubt we’ll hear the same from the business round table for the new business tax cuts here.

  6. Tigger 6

    You socialists! You’re taking my personal tax cut and the cut in rate to my company out of my cold, dead fingers. The extra money I’m making from these is going where it belongs…to the Labour Party coffers as a donation to assist them bring down this vile government.

  7. The Economic Illiteracy Support Group 7

    Personally I think it’s a good call to ask for the student loan repayments … although I also think it would be a good idea if Bill English cancelled New Zealand’s most notorious pork-barrel project, the Holiday Highway. There’s an extra $1.4 billion right there.

    • Marty G 7.1

      There’s nothing w rong with paying your loan back earlier if you want, and I don’t see Irish opposing it. But it’s important to note that repaying your loan earlier only improves the govt’s books by 40% of what you pay -the rest is just changing an asset for cash.

      It’s also important to note that your repayment doesn’t go to rebuilding chch. It goes into the consolidated fund, where the govt can spend it on anything. A holiday highway example.

      • The Economic Illiteracy Support Group 7.1.1

        The consolidated fund point is a valid one, although any increase in tax rates and/or earthquake levy (which I’m strongly in favour of, btw) would also end up in the same place – which is fair enough, as I doubt that the costs of the rebuild are going to be ring-fenced and will be drawn from the consolidated fund as needed.

        • felix

          “any increase in tax rates and/or earthquake levy (which I’m strongly in favour of, btw) would also end up in the same place”

          How do you figure that?

          It would go wherever the parliament legislates for it to go.

          • The Economic Illiteracy Support Group

            And right now Parliament hasn’t legislated for any kind of ring-fenced funding for the rebuild, so ipso facto it will come out of the consolidated fund, like practically every other piece of non-specific government expenditure. The new CERA may have some other source of money identified in its yet-to-be-tabled enabling legislation, but somehow I doubt it given that the rebuild cost will be almost impossible to quantify at this stage.

            • felix

              That’s the most circular bit of reasoning I’ve seen all day, and I’ve been dealing with a fucking goat of all creatures, one of god’s most deceptively obtuse animals.

              Of course nothing has been legislated to ring fence the hypothetical earthquake levy – there is no levy.

              Ipso facto you’re talking out your arse.

              • Pascal's bookie

                Deceptively is right. Goats know exactly what the fuck is going on.

                • felix

                  Oh yeah they do. Tricksy goatses.

                  • lprent

                    There are only two ways to deal with goats successfully. One involves strong electric fences, and the other involves 0.223 rounds at long range with a telescopic sight.

                    But goats do respect electric fences, You can even get goats to eat old man gorse when enclosed with a gorse patch and with a sufficiently strong electric fence. Usually only takes a week or two to the point that you can get in to inject the trunk with 24D or whatever the current gorse killer is. The goats come out desperately hungry for anything that doesn’t have thorns but without weight loss.

                    So if you have recalcitrant goats and a gorse bush, just add the electric fence….


                    • ak

                      (let them eat gorse?…sounds awfully nanny state butt Lynn, think of the poor kids)

                    • felix

                      Yeah the digestive capabilities of a goat can be astounding. This one loves blackberry, wild roses, and anything else that’s tough and sharp and nasty. And yep she’s discovered the electric fence, can’t say she likes it much but it’s the only thing that keeps her in the paddock. Ordinary fences pose no obstacle at all.

                      Although it’s a constant battle to keep her in any one place I’m secretly quite proud of her tenacity every time she outwits us.

                    • Armchair Critic

                      I need a goat that eats weeds, because I hate spraying poisons. The goats I have like pasture, hedges and when the gate is left unlatched, they like roses, especially the flowers. Happy to trade.

                    • lprent

                      Nah, just get an electric fence. Make your goat always estatic to see you.

                      Ummm note to self… Trademark that slogan otherwise the national party will. I think that they already have “work will set you free” or was that Act?

              • The Economic Illiteracy Support Group

                So here’s the actual text of the CERA FAQs (PDF) as it relates to the funding sources:

                What budget will it have?
                It is proposed that:
                o A new separate Vote be set up and initially this Vote contain one departmental output expense appropriation “Planning for the Recovery”
                o the scope of this appropriation be limited to expenses incurred in planning the recovery from the Canterbury earthquakes; and
                o initial funding for this appropriation be by way of a fiscally neutral transfer of $500,000 from the departmental output expense in Vote Economic Development.
                Beyond this initial funding, Budget Ministers, in consultation with the Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery, should determine the amount of funding to be appropriated for CERA and any additional amount to be held in a tagged contingency for this purpose.

                Translation into goat-compliant English: It’s coming out of the consolidated fund, just like a regular government agency.

                • felix

                  Oh, so you’re now talking about something completely different from the bit I replied to which I handily quoted for you above.


                  Your original assertion was and remains bullshit.

                  • The Economic Illiteracy Support Group

                    My original point – which seems to have completely eluded you – is that tax revenues (and student loan repayments) end up in the consolidated fund.

                    The reason that was relevant was that Marty pointed out that early repayment of student loans don’t magically end up in a special “let’s rebuild Christchurch” account, they go into the same consolidated fund that pays for the vast majority of government services. By inference, therefore, those heroes who repay their student loans early in a burst of Christchurch-centric patriotism may well be funding Steven Joyce’s Memorial Holiday Highway and Bill English’s Commemorative Housing Rort – they have no guarantee whatsoever that their repayments will go direct to Christchurch.

                    • felix

                      The point I responded to (which despite my repeated referring to it seems to have been studiously avoided by you ever since) was this:

                      “any increase in tax rates and/or earthquake levy (which I’m strongly in favour of, btw) would also end up in the same place” (my emph)

                      Which is clearly blatantly obviously untrue, as if the govt wants to impose a levy they can legislate for it to go anywhere they damn well please.


  8. kriswgtn 8

    If the Nactoid’s were so serious re debt and bringing it down
    Why not take a pay cut Slimey & Co?

  9. Colonial Viper 9

    PeteG is running the bullshit Right Wing meme that giving more money to the wealthy is somehow for the common good, instead of just the good of the wealthy.

    I’ll tell you what is a better idea: increase taxes on those who can afford it the most. Substantially.

    Then have the Government spend that money for the common good, to build facilities and provide services which can be used by all.

    • M 9.1

      Hush your mouth CV, how dare you utter such blasphemy about our benificent betters – the poor darlings have worked so hard for all of us by gaming the system in their favour and one day will share their ill-gotten gains. Fingers crossed, Mars and Jupiter aligned etc….

      PeteG must be some NACT hack with too much time on his hands when he plainly cannot see the country is going to hell in a handcart and all he can do is preach a do-nothing mantra and make up excuses to let his sharkish friends off the hook. The fact that he appears so reasonable always makes me think of thicko psychologists or reporters who use the bullshit, softly, softly voice to enquire as to how someone feels when some tragedy has befallen them.

      • PeteG 9.1.1

        when he plainly cannot see the country is going to hell in a handcart

        I could plainly see it being claimed that the country was going to hell on a handbasket throughout the Clark reign but the sky hasn’t fallen in yet.

        I’m not preaching a do nothing mantra – I’ve often criticised National for not being bold enough in addressing fundamental problems the country has. I’ve often criticised tax avoidance and corporate crap – but also understand we need corporations as much as we need taxes to fund development and jobs.

        And yeah, I’m used to being criticised for not being extreme enough.

        • Colonial Viper

          Hey PeteG thanks for advocating money gifts for the rich.

          Hope they’re giving you a commission for selling the future of your kids down the river. (Unless you intend to ship them off to higher incomes and higher employment in Australia of course, in which case why should you care).

          And yeah, I’m used to being criticised for not being extreme enough.

          You’re a hack for the Right Wing, that’s the criticism I have of you. The rest you are making up yourself.

          Hi ya M 🙂

          • PeteG

            CV, you remind me of Redbaiter, he kept saying anyone to the left of him was a socialist – 99.9% are to his left. Except he was much better at trolling up flame wars.

            • Colonial Viper

              Meh, you’re backing a crowd which is impoverishing the country, putting the rich ahead of the working poor, and selling our core strategic assets to foreigners.

              So don’t expect me to give you credit for it mate.

              • Treetop

                What do the tax cuts to the top 10 % fund?

                A better quality bottle of wine.
                A better cut of meat.
                A better car.
                A more expensive motel room.
                More expensive clothing, hair cut, furniture…

                English says they pay more GST. This is only correct if they are purchasing at the top end as in the above. If not, English you have been screwed.

        • M

          ‘I could plainly see it being claimed that the country was going to hell on a handbasket throughout the Clark reign but the sky hasn’t fallen in yet.’

          This is arrant nonsense – Helen along with Michael Cullen set the country back on the road to decency and fairer sharing out of the moola and the right just couldn’t stand it that the poor and low waged were going to finally have some relief.

          Then the knives came out for Helen because gasp, she was childless, was not classically beautiful based on today’s standards, had a towering intellect and refused to play the game of being dumb and a pleaser to males. Helen’s intellect next to Key’s is like a mallet smashing a flea and many men really cannot handle the fact that a woman could be smarter than them.

          For act two there were all the hints that she was a lesbian, yawn.

          No way do I endorse all the things Labour did but on balance they helped those who needed it most which is more than I can say for this current motley crew who need to shown up for the merciless mandarins that they are.

          • Carol

            Indeed, M.

            No way do I endorse all the things Labour did but on balance they helped those who needed it most which is more than I can say for this current motley crew [ie NAct] who need to shown up for the merciless mandarins that they are.

            And I care much more about that, than who is leading Labour right now. NAct is trying to make it all about leaders in a US presidential kind of way. The team, the alliances with other parties, and their policies are far more important, IMO.

  10. aj 10

    It makes me wonder what National are going to campaign on this year.

    Scratch tax cuts.
    Scratch catching up with Australian wages.
    Scratch cycleway.

    That only leaves patriotism. Take one for the team.

  11. Bunji 11

    I liked Blinglish showing that one man’s greed is another man’s need on Morning Report this morning.

    As he claimed that we needed to cut back to essentials now, we couldn’t afford “nice-to-haves”, Geoff asked him if the tax cuts weren’t a “nice-to-have”, with predictable denials returned…

  12. Peter 12

    Plenty of graduates would like to pay ,but have yet to find a job paying more than what is on offer at the local cafe..

  13. tsmithfield 13

    Something the government has done (which Labour didn’t do anything about in 9 years although it was an obvious and well-known problem) is to address the definition of income so that it is bloody hard to scam the system through the use of trusts etc.

    So, with the wealthy not able to so easily scam the system, the fact that there are less tax breaks on housing investments, and that the wealthy pay more in GST than the poor (given they tend to buy more expensive things), it may well be that on average the wealthy aren’t any better off despite the tax cuts.

    • The Economic Illiteracy Support Group 13.1

      There’s a simple and obvious scam that National have enabled with their tax changes – the lifting of limits on gifting. Previously you could only gift $27K/annum without attracting the taxman; now you can gift an infinite amount, which will allow cashed-up family trusts to shuffle income to family members to take advantage of lower marginal tax rates. It will only benefit a small number of rich people, but I guess that’s the central purpose of National Party policy.

      • tsmithfield 13.1.1

        Na. You need to read the link in my last post. That would come under the “other payment” category, and would still qualify as income.

        • The Economic Illiteracy Support Group

          Yes, it still qualifies as income – no-one’s arguing that point. My issue is that freeing up the gifting rules facilitates a loophole that will allow a small number of rich family trusts to move around income so they pay the lowest marginal tax rate on it – for instance, gifting income to children who are clearly not in the top tax bracket.

          And let’s be clear about this – the changes to the gifting rules have no other societal purpose, bar the lowering of the tax obligations for rich family trusts. Which rather makes a mockery of your contention that “on average the wealthy aren’t any better off despite the tax cuts”.

          • Chris

            Just so you know the fact that gift duty is being abolished makes absolutely no change on the ability of trusts to allocate income to beneficiaries with lower marginal tax rates.

            The allocation of income to its beneficiaries does not count as a gift. Trust’s have always had no limits on the amounts that they can allocate (up to the amount of their income for that year of course). This has been the rule since trusts were invented whenever that was.

            Also trusts can’t gift, neither can companies, you have to have ‘natural love and affection’ to gift, which a trust or company cannot have. What the abolishment of gift duty allows people to do is gift their assets into a family trust or to each other without any gift duty. People (not just the rich) are already doing this – it simply allows them to do it one go rather than have a bit of paper saying you are doing it in $27,000 lots each year.

            It’s also worth noting that if you do something wrong, particularly fraud the courts can go back and undo your gifts, stripping out any assets in trusts anyway.

            So basically the gifting rules must have another reason (significantly reducing compliance costs) rather than making a loophole to reducing tax costs – because it doesn’t do that.

        • The Economic Illiteracy Support Group

          TS – Having re-read the link you posted, I think I see where you’re coming from – the passive distributions to children (my example) are indeed captured by the new definition of income. However this income definition only seems to apply to Working For Families Tax Credits, so it’s clearly only aimed at that group – if you are a non-WFF family, you appear to be able to use National’s loophole exactly as I described.

          • tsmithfield

            You’re probably right. There probably is some small benefit in minimising tax rates. However, with the top rate now much lower, there is a lot less incentive in this respect.

            On the other hand, it would be interesting to know how much better charities are faring since the removal of gift duty. Especially in the case of the earthquake. I wonder how many people have been more motivated to give generously because the government isn’t being a grinch about taxing them on their gifts.

            • Lanthanide

              “However, with the top rate now much lower, there is a lot less incentive in this respect.”

              That might stop wealthy people from going through the effort of setting up *new* arrangements, but there’s certainly no reason why they would give up their existing arrangements. It doesn’t really matter that the benefit isn’t as large as it used to be, there’s still a benefit in doing it.

              Furthermore, even if there was a 0 benefit in it (or even a slight penalty), people would continue with their existing income sheltering because if they suddenly undid it, IRD would say “hey, how come your income has gone up by 1000% and yet your business remains exactly the same, and the only thing that changed was tax law?”.

              Gift Duty doesn’t apply to registered charities, and most large organisations will be. It would apply to small community groups (like churches and such), but only if you’re meeting the threshold, which kicks in at $27k from one individual. I would suggest that such small organisations that are not registered charities would tend not to get very many gifts in that magnitude from single individuals.

              On the other hand, putting assets into trusts is a very good way of protecting them from relationship property laws. This is going to have a far far bigger negative impact than any small gain from gifts to community organisations.

            • lprent

              On the other hand, it would be interesting to know how much better charities are faring since the removal of gift duty. Especially in the case of the earthquake. I wonder how many people have been more motivated to give generously because the government isn’t being a grinch about taxing them on their gifts.

              Probably not much better since gift duties will be abolished in October this year.

          • Lanthanide

            You are correct – National’s new loophole closing applies only to WFF. They haven’t extended the provisions to taxation in general or other benefits.

            I’m pretty sure that they haven’t closed the loophole for student allowance rorts either, where Daddy the Lawyer actually only has an annual income of 30k Mummy stays at home to look after the kids between her cocktail evenings and gallery openings.

            • The Economic Illiteracy Support Group

              The more I read of the changed assessments for WFF the more I think it’s simply an ideological stick being used to beat a specific group – if National were consistent in its approach, then the same criteria would be used to assess income for taxation purposes and all other entitlements, rather than singling out WFF recipients. Your example of the student allowance rort is a perfect example.

              And just to answer TS’s query on the donation levels following the changes to gifting, the answer is very precise – the limits on giving to registered charities were removed a couple of years back (by the last Labour govt, IIRC) so there are already no taxation obstacles to giving 100% of your income to the Sallies – so the real-world impact of the Nat’s changes is zero, nil, nada, nix and a whole bunch of other words that signify nothing.

    • Lanthanide 13.2

      I agree that Labour should have done much more on closing tax avoidance loopholes when they were in power. They didn’t, though.

      National have made some steps towards it, but as EISG says above, they’re basically stepping backwards at the same rate by removing gift duty, so although they may have closed off *some* loopholes, they’ve also made it much easier to exploit others (never mind relationship property being put into trusts to avoid 50/50 split rules).

      Labour seem more serious on this point than National does: http://thestandard.org.nz/hickey-on-borrowing/#comment-313681

    • Anthony C 13.3

      When the trust transfers money to beneficiaries, isn’t it normally structured as a ‘loan’ thereby avoiding tax? or is this money taxable?

      • KJT 13.3.1

        The trust does things like supply houses and cars to beneficiaries which are effectively income, but not taxed as such.

  14. kriswgtn 14

    This morning @ the Kapiti lights ,there is a community noticeboard and it asked where has the Earthquake Levies monies gone that has been paid over the last 60+ years

    I was wondering the same thing

    Also wonder how much increase the MP’s will get this year
    Theyre a joke

    • Lanthanide 14.1

      If you’re asking about the EQC levies, they went to EQC. That’s how EQC has (had) over $6bn in assets before the first earthquake.

      Both events have taken $1.5bn max from their assets, and re-insurers cover the next $2.5b of each event for a total of $4bn, and then the government pays the ‘rest’ (after private insurers, and the regional/city councils have their own national insurance scheme as well).

      EQC has over $3bn in assets left, which is enough for 2 major events ($1.5bn from each event).

      So it’s really not much of a mystery where it went.

      • freedom 14.1.1

        i think it is important to remind folks that immediately after the September Quake John Key plainly and publicly stated in numerous TV appearances that the EQC had over $15bn* in cash assets. Within days that figure, when it was referenced at all, had dwindled to $9bn. In the new year the quoted figure was floating around $7bn to 8bn. By the February quake this had become the now oft-quoted $6bn of reserves.

        *These are figures quoted from the man himself on TV

        • Lanthanide

          Yes, I do recall that number myself as well.

          I’m not entirely sure why it shrank so much. I recall my bf saying at the time (not specifically referencing Key) that they had $15bn in total assets. Maybe Key’s number includes total assets including property and other investments that aren’t very liquid, while the $6bn number is the easily accessible cash-equivalent?

  15. Samuel Hill 15

    I’ll never pay mine back 😉

  16. kwikenz 16

    Well… I live overseas… mines $300,000! I’ll never be able to pay it back and couldn’t get work in my field in NZ.

    I have tried negotiating with IRD to come home and make a contribution but despite offering evidence of the potential for $40K per annum in income tax, let alone GST, excise and consumption, its all or nothing for the IRD.

    Consequently it’ll be a case of restructuring assets into trust and declaring bankruptcy in NZ and never returning home.

    Nice one NZ!?

    • r0b 16.1

      Cases like this make me want to weep with frustration!

      • kwikenz 16.1.1

        Consider how its makes me feel! I was defrauded twice by training organisations that jumped on the student loan for private training provider bandwagon to the value of some $50K… organisations who subsequently ceased trading and kept the money.

        Over half of the remainder is interest and penalties. IRD advise that because I work abroad, even though I could live in and be a tax resident in NZ, I would still fail to meet the ‘interest free’ requirements.

        The scale of the oil and gas industry in NZ means that I simply cant get work in NZ for anything like my overseas job.

        I believe in repaying the loan and certainly have the means to do so to some extent but in my case, according to the IRD calculators, to pay it off in 25 years or so, I would need to make nearly $40,000 per annum in payments! Not likely.

        Consequently I am faced with the choice of bankruptcy now, or meeting the $3000 per year overseas payment only to have 2.2 million dollars added to the loan over the next 35 years!

        The only thing to be gained from hounding ‘hopeless’ cases like mine is some satisfaction that a ‘greedy student’ has been sent bankrupt. The taxpayer will be out of pocket.

        If the IRD would only negotiate, there could be a win for all parties.

        At this stage, sadly I don’t see that I’ll ever be coming home, leaving me estranged from friends and family.

        The true cost of a student loan?

        • r0b

          Arrrgh! Want to write this up as a guest post and send it to us? “The true cost of a student loan”. These stories need to be told.

          • adriank

            I was thinking recently that for every increase in student fees/application of interest on student loans (sure to come back between 2011 and 2014 if the Nats are returned) then a one-off levy of $500 or so should be placed on everyone who attended university prior to the move to user-pays. After all, why should people like me be punished solely for the fact that we came of age post-1992?

            I’m mostly just bitter because I moved overseas with a loan of just over $30k and came back 3 years later with a loan of $50k.

            • Jim Nald

              Welcome to the dairy industry. You’ve been milked.

            • Carol

              Hmmm…. it’s more complicated than making a straight comparison between university costs and funding in different periods. As I recall, in the 60s and 70s, users also had to pay for much of their uni fees and living costs, so many students had to work to subsidise their studies. But also, only about 1-3% of the population went to Uni, and they were mostly children of the middle classes. I know my parents always said back then, that they could only afford to send one of their children to uni.

              Since the late 70s there’s been a massive expansion in the proportion of the population that go to tertiary education. This was related to shifts in the job structure, with less unskilled manual jobs and more jobs needing a reasonable level of education & training. So, this required a much bigger amount of funding. However, as this education and training is so necessary to our society I think there should be more state funding put into it. But the politicians in the 80s/90s in NZ decided the solution to the expansion of tertiary education was the whole student loans thing.

          • Lanthanide

            And/or go on Campbell Live. I’m sure if you contact them about this topic (repayments to help CHCH) they’ll jump at a chance to tell your story. They like starting a debate and embarrassing the government in the process.

            • Nemesis

              Interesting , I’ve been led to believe from some here that NZs media is controlled by right wing oligarchs who make sure the current govt is never ciriticised and leak awful news about labour to undermine them to the public every chance they get.

              [thumbs and forefinger on chin] hmmmmm

              Maybe some of the posters here as nutty as the extremists on kiwiblog?

              • RobC

                Maybe, unlike Kiwiblog, posters here actually have differing opinions?

                You sure your thumb and forefinger are on your chin and not in some cavity elsewhere?

              • Lanthanide

                Campbell Live has always done that a little. Back when the cycleway was announced, they were doing weekly (then monthly) updates on the cycleway – how many kms laid, how many jobs created, and whether the country was still in recession.

                They only really started putting the pressure on the government as of the start of this year. I (and others) commented on this at the time, you can dig back through the open mics if you like. They did a follow up on the girl that Key shamelessly took to Waitangi and what had changed in her and her families life. Stories on the price of milk. Stories on the price of food and people going to food banks.

                The thing is, though, Campbell Live is a lightweight entertainment-affairs show, for the most part. And it fights against strong ratings from Close Up (which is shit) and Shortland Street, so not that many people watch it. It’s also not the same as Duncan Garner or Guyon Espiner up there regurgitating the government’s press releases without any fact checking, or passing off their opinions as if they’re not biased. Champbell Live is also only a single programme on for 30 minutes a night and frequently doesn’t cover politics, unlike the talkback taliban and newspapers and news websites.

                So no, you’re not really pointing out anything clever, you’re just making yourself look like a twat.

  17. randal 17

    I would love to pay mine back but that would mean obtaining employment.
    “THEY” dont seem to want to do that.
    so as far as I am concerned its all just words.
    I spent seven years there learning about creating enterprises and the history of economics and business but I may just as well have spent it all on booze and dope.
    “THEY are too scared to let anyone who didnt go to the right school have a go.
    “THEY want it all for themselves even when they dont how to do it properly.
    Its theirs and thats that!

  18. Oleolebiscuitbarrell 18

    In one case, people have had something for free from the government in return for a promise that they would pay for it later, and they haven’t. Some people think the people who got the thing in return for a promise to pay for it later should have got it for free.

    In the other, the government has ceased taking from people to the same degree as it used to. Some people think that the people should pay more.

    Can you really not see the difference?

    • vto 18.1

      I think what you are trying to say is.. if some of the first people freely took a thing to the same degree think paying for people who later thought thinking was free gave it to others while people who had something with the government got it for paying for it after those people took it in return for a promise haven’t later then got the free thing with interest and had both paid later and ceased taking from those who got it for free instead of paying.

    • felix 18.2

      Tax pays for our society.

      Those who gain the most financial benefit from that society are expected to make the largest financial contribution in return.

      Arguments that taxation = the govt “taking your money” are pure bullshit.

      • RedLogix 18.2.1

        And of course New Zealand still has one of the lowest total income tax burden’s in the OECD. At about 20%, only Korea and Mexico are lower.

        Which goes a long way to explaining why we have such a tatty, dysfunctional society.

      • lefty 18.2.2

        I don’t mind government taking tax.

        Its the surplus labour that has been stolen off me over the 45 years I have spent in the workforce that pisses me off. That and the useless bastards, many of them still in Parliament, who got a free education off my taxes and then loaded my children up with debt to pay for theirs. At the same time they run an economy thats hard to get decent pay in so repayment is difficult.

        To make things even worse they also put the retirement age up so I am going to have to drag my buggered body off to work for an extra five years.

      • Oleolebiscuitbarrell 18.2.3

        Arguments that taxation = the govt “taking your money” are pure bullshit.

        I really do not even know where to start with that. Is it as simple as “all property is theft”, Felix?

        You know that even the people who take the money consider it was the taxpayers to start with, right:


        • Colonial Viper

          Hey Ole

          You just admitted with that link that the Government sets the rules.

          And surprise surprise, the Government has the statutory power to acquire tax from you. You benefit from living in a civil, organised society, and that costs money to keep going.

          Get over it or move to a banana republic.

          • Oleolebiscuitbarrell

            I was responding to the narrow claim that:

            Arguments that taxation = the govt “taking your money” are pure bullshit.

            I have never doubted that:

            the Government has the statutory power to acquire tax from you.

            Felix seems to believe that the Government does not need the power to take tax from you because it is not “your” money to start with.

            You and I seem to be in complete agreement.

            • felix

              Correct, it’s not “your” money to start with, it’s wealth generated by a functioning society.

              Our society is relatively liberal in that as individuals we are allowed to seize some of that wealth for our own personal use. I think that’s a good thing. Not all societies operate this way.

              But it’s not “finders keepers” and just because you can wrest it from someone else doesn’t make it instantly “yours”.

              • Oleolebiscuitbarrell

                …just because you can wrest it from someone else doesn’t make it instantly “yours”.

                You are right, of course. I reflected on this just this morning when I “wrested” a cup of coffee from the nice woman who runs the cafe next to work and she “wrested” $3.50 from me. On completion of this struggle, I plainly did own the cup of coffee and she did not own the $3.50.

  19. Draco T Bastard 19

    Letter to Sir Paul Callaghan

    This letter was written in response to this letter urging overseas holders of student loans to pay back more in the wake of the Christchurch earthquake.

    Not much that I can add to that letter. The people who need to be paying for the Chch rebuild and other necessary government services are the ones who benefited from the time when we actually had a welfare state. Now that they’ve benefited from that largesse they’re taking away from the children the assistance that they received.

    • Carol 19.1

      Indeed, I think the people overseas with student loans are not the people who should be paying for Christchurch. But I don’t think a whole, very diverse generation is the ones to blame. It’s more the wealthiest and powerful who have brought about the economic problems we are facing: esepcially those who have promoted &/or enforced neoliberal policies. See lefty above who seems like a boomer.

      I should imagine that the children of the boomers who are reasonably well off (and that’s by no means the whole of the boomer generation), are probably also doing very well financially, and are less likely to be the ones saddled with big student loans. And at least one of those “bastards” that lefty refers to, who are still in parliament, is from the generation before the boomers (ie Roger Douglas).

    • The Economic Illiteracy Support Group 19.2

      As someone who got paid an allowance to attend University, I think the idea of making your children pay for the privilege of an education – with interest – is nothing but a pernicious deadweight drag on the future productivity of the country. It seems an exercise in stupidity to claim that we want a “knowledge economy” whilst imposing what is effectively a tax on knowledge.

      • Colonial Viper 19.2.1

        It seems an exercise in stupidity to claim that we want a “knowledge economy” whilst imposing what is effectively a tax on knowledge.

        And then not blinking when one in four of your “knowledge economy” graduates decides to leave and not come back.

  20. Descendant Of Smith 20

    Except that much of the student loan debt has not built a knowledge economy but was built up by private enterprise running cheap, shoddy, crappy training programs in order to take taxpayers money and turn it into profit.

    Had nothing to do with building any sort of knowledge economy.

    Yeah competition for the training dollar achieved great things for New Zealand – dive courses for the gangs to learn how to poach crayfish and paua, computer courses where the Mongrel Mob could get in one case in one house alone six taxpayer funded PC’s which went to cash converters the day after they arrived, computer courses at 3,000 a pop over 42 weeks for 30 hours training (yep that’s right 30 hours in 42 weeks), industry based courses that aren’t recognised by the industries as being any good… the list could go on.

    Man there were so many bullshit courses run by private enterprise it wasn’t funny.

    Had very little to do with education – has everything to do with making a profit.

    • Lanthanide 20.1

      Yes, absolutely. Private training institutes are ripping people off, especially with computing courses where they indicate you’ll get a great job and earn lots of money (where ’40k’ is lots… for someone looking at retail work), except the courses aren’t anything more advanced than high school level. They’d work well as an introduction to go with another course, but by themselves are worthless.

    • Descendant Of Smith 20.2

      I was waiting for the right-wingers to defend their private sector counterparts who ran this stuff. The defense of the free market providing quality training.

      Where are they? I can’t hear them?

  21. Billy Fish 21

    Ignoring the economic issues for a second this strikes me as another addition to the “Loyal” meme that has been growing in the past few weeks
    We need to be Loyal, Heoric, Don’t politicise, Stand in solidarity and if you question you are pissing on the graves of those victims.
    Part of the crisis politics that are nescessary for the agenda monkeys

    Just my own observation

  22. Roger 22

    Heroic things that could be paid:

    the cost of road use by trucks
    tax cuts by top earners
    all tax avoided by top income earners through trust etc.
    the 43 million interest free loan to tv3 etc
    the money to guarantee gambling by SCF
    All money given to the productivity group that just printed the ACT manifesto

    • PeteG 22.1

      Tax is avoided – legally within the current imperfect tax system we have – by many top and medium income earners. Tax is also avoided – illegally – by people across all incomes, in the black economy.

      Trading without paying GST or income tax
      Under the counter transactions
      Paying employees cash for work done
      Drug trade
      Not declaring income

      Pointing the finger at one segment ignores the reality.

      • Colonial Viper 22.1.1

        Hey PeteG

        The big money is in big money tax evasion. Only people with big money can do big money tax evasion because you need good accountants and good lawyers to pull it off. But its worth it because it rips huge amounts of money away from the Government.

        Exactly like the Australian banks trying to get away with hundreds of millions in tax

        Interested in how you would like to enforce GST on the drug trade

        Pointing the finger at one segment ignores the reality.

        Nah mate it’s this thing called “prioritising”. Prioritising is something you need to do if you are interested in “reality”.

        With National their priority is blaming the poor and the underclass, and helping the rich, for instance.

        • PeteG

          Can you quantify that? A lot of small abuses could easily add up to a large scale of abuse.

          Blaming one class or another ignores the fact that selfishness and greed is a problem across the board. The “it’s ok for me to cheat because they cheat more” attitude is a major part of the problem.

          • Jim Nald

            Thanks for the tip.
            I’ll ask John Key and Bill English at a public meeting next time about their attitude in blaming others.

          • RobC

            Do you need it quantified? Was widely reported IRD’s settlement with the banks was $2.2 billion. A couple of days ago I put up a link to a Herald article about workplace fraud (mainly committed by managers and above) at record levels – $100 million in the second half of 2010.

            A lot of large abuses add up to a hell of a lot more than a lot of small ones.

            • PeteG

              How big is the black economy?

              If everyone doesn’t care about transgressions because someone else is bound to be worse and cheating more we are not going to make much progress.

              • big bruv


                Want to find out how big the black economy is?…simple, just as the next tradesmen you hire what his price is for cash, it works every time for me.

                • Descendant Of Smith

                  Whereas I refuse to pay cash jobs when tradesman try that on – in fact they lose the job and my money.

                  But then I just must be honest and ethical while you the person who thinks everyone else bludges clearly aids and abets illegal activity.

                  They are often also ripping off their employer in many cases by doing jobs that rightly belong to the firm who employes them, collecting their salary while doing perk jobs, using the work equipment, the work van and so on.

              • felix

                “If everyone doesn’t care about transgressions because someone else is bound to be worse and cheating more we are not going to make much progress.”

                That’s not actually an argument for ignoring the worst abusers and focusing on the lesser ones Petey.

      • felix 22.1.2

        Trading without paying GST or income tax
        Under the counter transactions
        Paying employees cash for work done
        Drug trade
        Not declaring income

        Aren’t four of those the same thing?

  23. big bruv 23

    What about getting the ‘heroic’ dpb and long term dole bludgers to give back what they have stolen.

    • Colonial Viper 23.1

      Hey bb, why target the vulnerable in society who need the most help? They took nothing in real terms: after all the real thieves are the big banks, the corporates, the tax evaders and of course this Government which is bent on selling off the family silver.

      Oh I see, you’re just trying to distract attention away from where the real money is being thieved.

  24. big bruv 24

    Or…we could just cut WFF, Interest free student loans, All Arts funding and a whole host of government departments.

    The move onto major benefit reform, time limits on the unemployment benefit, making solo parents on the DPB look for work, peg the DPB to the number of kids the parent has when they first apply for the benefit and…….really start cracking down on the thousands and thousands of people who choose the benefit as a lifestyle choice.

    However, this will not interest you guys, you are not interested in fairness, you just want to bash anybody who dares earn above the average wage.

    • you are not interested in fairness

      Yeah BB we don’t pay our debts when we lose bets either.

      • big bruv 24.1.1

        Is that the best you have Micky?

        Still..not surprised really given who your political hero is.

    • Colonial Viper 24.2

      Hey big bruv, you know that all the things that you suggest will hurt many people in your own family, many people in your own neighbourhoods, many of your friends and friends of friends.

      That’s OK is it?

      However, this will not interest you guys, you are not interested in fairness, you just want to bash anybody who dares earn above the average wage.

      You’re a moron bruv, half of all NZ’ers live on less than $28,000 p.a. and you are part of a team which wants to make more cuts to that.

      Don’t fight for the rich mate they are doing just fine, they won’t have to give up their new BMWs or their indoor swimming pools.

  25. big bruv 25


    I would be happy to help those who need it the most just as soon as they make a genuine attempt to help themselves.

    Keen on that idea?……..thought not.

    As for the family silverware, well the family is having a meeting in November, if the majority of the family decide that the family silverware should be sold then that is what will happen.

    Personally, I will be pushing to sell the lot.

    • Colonial Viper 25.1

      Hey bb

      Sure I agree with you, let’s get night classes going again, help mature students enrol in uni, provide more counselling and vocational advice for people, life coaching, more better cheaper child care services, reverse the ECE cuts, help those on the DPB get into training and upskilling programmes, and raise the minimum wage to incentivise work etc.

      Oh I see you don’t want any of that, you don’t actually want to help people?

      Your model of society is to abandon these people and see if they sink or swim?

      Yeah mate good on ya

      • big bruv 25.1.1

        Hey Viper

        Yeah, those are great idea’s.

        Let’s teach another couple of generations that it does not matter if you want to cruise through life, it does not matter if you stuff up, don’t worry about personal responsibility, sure, have far more kids than you can afford because…………………..we will just tax the hell out of those who have worked hard and done well.

        It is clear that handing money over to people to do nothing has not worked and for some reason you seem to think that basket weaving courses is going to help people find work.

        Your idea of society is to reward people for failure….just as long as they vote Labour.

        Thank goodness the people of NZ have rejected the left.

        • Colonial Viper

          Hey bruv

          Let me repeat – 50% of all NZ’ers are on $28,000 p.a. or less.

          50% of all full time working NZ’ers are on $40,000 p.a. or less.

          We are a poor impoverished country, with a large section of working poor, and you are still defending the rich and the wealthy.

          You’re either stupid, or you need to shake off a serious case of idol worship. You’re advocating for things which are destroying the neighbourhoods and the communities around you.

          Your idea of society is to reward people for failure….just as long as they vote Labour.

          Yeah whatever, it seems like people liked nearly full employment under Cullen/Clark

          They don’t like to work under Key/English

          • big bruv

            You have just proved my point Viper, after nine years of a Clark government we have another generation who have been taught by her government that they need not worry about working hard because the government will always be there to bail them out.

            If 50% of the people in NZ earn less than 40k then the blame for that lays directly at the feet of the Labour government, during Clarks nine year corrupt reign real wages increased (from memory) no more than 3%.

            The really stupid people Viper are those who think that continuing to do the things that have failed miserably for nine years is a good idea.

            Clark/Kullen led this nation into a recession before any other nation in the world Viper, the pair of them destroyed the productive sector with high taxes and a bloated bureaucracy, their disastrous actions are still costing this nation dearly.

            Having said all that you have not yet advocated a way of increasing the earning powers or wealth of the so called poor other than by stealing money from those who have done well, or by continuing to reward poor lifestyle choices.

            No Viper….the really stupid people are those who think that socialism has ever increased the real wealth of the people.

    • Jim Nald 25.2

      Hey bb,
      How much are you worth? Can we sell you first?
      Not to our Mums and Dads, but to an overseas buyer.

  26. Colonial Viper 26

    bb can I just make it clear again that you are advocating for policies which will hurt yourself, hurt your children, hurt your neighbours and hurt your colleagues?

    Of course the wealthiest 5%, those earning over $90K p.a. will probably do quite well in the environment you describe.

    Everyone else will be abandoned to sink or swim.

    Watching your mates drown while you smile and wave buddy

    • RobC 26.1

      My mother told me many years ago when an obnoxious git with a loud voice and no brain wants to verbally engage with you, the best thing to do is ignore him and they eventually go away. To do otherwise encourages the voice to get louder and allow the git to think he actually has a brain.

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