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Lies damn lies and tax analysis

Written By: - Date published: 1:21 pm, March 2nd, 2019 - 67 comments
Categories: capital gains, Deep stuff, Gerry Brownlee, national, Politics, same old national, spin, Steven Joyce, tax, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags:

The Government is taking time to consider its response to the Tax Working Group’s proposed capital gains tax.  As it should.  These decisions are not easy ones and potentially government ending ones.

But the hiatus in providing a response had let the opposition say all sorts of stuff.  Much of what has been said is as credible of Stephen Joyce’s claim of a $11.5 billion hole in Labour’s draft budget figures but the claims are being sent far and wide.

Damien Venuto at the Herald has been analysing what has been happening.  Although I disagree with his conclusion that the debate has actually skewered public perception, because there is remarkably strong support for a CGT, he is correct that National and its allies have been attempting to make the debate into something that it is not.

His article says this:

The release the Tax Working Group’s recommendations prompted a rapid flurry of responses from interest groups railing against the proposed capital gains tax.

Business NZ, The Employers and Manufacturers Association, the Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce and the Property Investors Federation were just some of the organisations to fire out releases before the ink had even dried on freshly printed copies of the report.

These carefully crafted responses quickly made their way into headlines, skewing the debate sharply in favour of those opposed to a capital gains tax.

In the initial rush for angles and opinions, views in support of the capital gains tax proved difficult to find amid the roaring chorus of “no”.

The lobby groups had ample time to prepare for something that had been strongly hinted at in the preceding months – and wasted no time in striking when those hints came to fruition.

And National has been engaging in US republican style hyperbole in its attempt to denigrate the proposal.

Like this attempt to suggest that ordinary workers with Kiwisaver accounts were going to be hit:

That is a big scary number.

There is this detail on how the figure is calculated on National’s website:

The estimated $64,000 reduction in value assumes a 45-year working life and is based on 15 per cent of a ‘balanced’ KiwiSaver fund being in Australasian shares, which would be taxed on an accrual basis on total annual gains. It also assumes the minimum employer and employee contribution rates.

I presume they have assumed the tax is paid by the provider each year and the rate of return is thereby diminished.

The calculations seem herculean. Year one the account would be worth $4,100. If 15% was invested in shares and there was a 4% return the return would be $24.60. Tax would be a third of this. I appreciate it is accumulated and there is wage inflation but the figure still seems high.

Of course, and I am presuming this because National has not released the details of its calculations, no account has been made for other TWG recommendations which include increased support for Kiwisaver and the suggested reduction to the bottom income tax threshold so that workers do get a tax cut or suggestions that the CGT should be tax neutral.

And I can confidently assert that no allowance is being made for the fact that a CGT will improve Sophie’s chances of buying a house, even in Auckland.

It is really rich that the party that hobbled Kiwisaver contributions and weakened its effectiveness should be complaining about steps that may reduce the value of Kiwisaver accounts.

But you get the picture.

The tactic clearly is to come up with a number and keep repeating it and repeating it and repeating it.

But the way I see it this claim is as credible as Steven Joyce’s $11.5 billion dollar hole or Gerry Brownlees’s clanger of a mistake concerning the cost of income tax bracket shift.

67 comments on “Lies damn lies and tax analysis ”

  1. Tuppence Shrewsbury 1

    If the government isn’t planning on taxing the capital gains a kiwi may achieve with KiwiSaver, why don’t they explicitly exempt KiwiSaver? Like pretty horses were exempted

    • KJT 1.1

      Capital gains in Kiwi saver are already taxed.

      For most people it won’t make any difference.

      Standard right wing tactics.
      1.If all else fails, lie frequently and in unison.
      2. After all “perception is reality”, and “if you repeat something often enough it becomes true”.

      • Tuppence Shrewsbury 1.1.1

        Who is telling lies?

        If mickeys tax gain Calculation is correct, then national is correct and there will be an additional tax on the sale of shares in a KiwiSaver fund. So it’s not the KiwiSaver person being taxed directly, it’s a reduced return to the fund as a result of the tax. Effectively an additional tax.

        It’s not a right wing mentality, it’s understanding the impact of this tax. I’m not against it per se. I’m against it being so high and pretty horses being exempt.

        • Sam 1.1.1.1

          I think the more fluid workforce of today is also a hindrance. Even if we assume that companies don’t play games to avoid paying kiwi saver contributions, the employee who starts working for a company at age 18 and sticks with them until retirement is an increasingly rare breed as people are both willing and able to look for work far from home without necessarily having to pick up and move, hoping there are jobs where you’re going. That’s another advantage to having something like Employer contributions to kiwi saver. I manage my own retirement savings, the pool of money I have is enough I don’t even need any further contributions, regardless of whether or not I work, the initial investment I made just compound and compound. Of course, I can take the money out early (and suffer the tax penalty for doing so) but companies and governments that have done similar things to pension plans increases the age of retirement (or just look at Welfare).

        • KJT 1.1.1.2

          Almost all Kiwi savers are in managed funds.

          Investments, Loke most savings, are liable for CGT, already.

          To claim it will make a difference to the average saver is an outright, lie.

          Even worse then the idea that the “average hard working Kiwi” will be hit hard by capital gains taxes.

          The “average Kiwi” after decades of giving to the rich and taking from the middle and low income, doesn’t get much capital gains.

          • Tuppence Shrewsbury 1.1.1.2.1

            So investment funds won’t pay capital gains when they sell shares at a profit? Because the value of fund increase gets taxed at the end of the year when the fund units tax return is filed? Is this what you are claiming will happen?

            • Sam 1.1.1.2.1.1

              In that case, you’re better off investing in bullets. When you make the elite class the masters of the economy, the economy collapses through being sucked into the elites petty wars and austerity, “petty wars of elite entertainment,” petty shit. Ammunition, on the other hand, will be worth its weight in fresh vegetables.

              • Tuppence Shrewsbury

                What are you talking about?

                Prosperity brings peace. Guessing you’ve just read about che guevera on the Wikipedia?

                • Sam

                  Rather catch cancer than guess what you are guessing.

                  Infrastructure you nub. Infrastructure is prosperity AND human rights.

                • greywarshark

                  Tuppence
                  You are talking hopeful stuff and not facts – prosperity and peace. Nice alliteration though.
                  If you want to present yourself as knowing stuff stick to what you know
                  and give us the facts.

                  You dear old couple having a hug about being so wise and knowing – you and shadrach are funny.

                  • Tuppence Shrewsbury

                    Another unintelligible ramble on this thread. Are you sams parent? Did you teach them how to be incoherent and delusional?

            • Shadrach 1.1.1.2.1.2

              HI TP

              KJT’s comments contain some inaccuracies that aren’t helpful.

              There are a range of scenarios with managed funds, here are the common ones:

              1. A managed fund operates to hold shares for dividend income. The shares are held in NZ companies. In that situation, if shares are sold, any capital gain is not taxable.

              2. A managed fund operates to trade in shares. The shares are held in NZ companies. In that situation, if shares are sold, any capital gain is taxable.

              3. A managed fund operates to hold shares for dividend income. The shares are held in overseas companies. In that situation, if shares are sold, the tax liability status is based on something called the ‘FIF’ (foreign investment fund) status. If the shares are held in a FIF, then the change in market value each year is taxable, along with any dividend. If the shares are not held in a FIF, then only the dividend is taxable.

              4. A managed fund operates to trade in shares dividend income. The shares are held in overseas companies. In that situation, if shares are sold, any capital gain is taxable.

              Where KJT is confused (“Investments, Loke most savings, are liable for CGT, already”) is scenario 1, and the non FIF shares I scenario 3. As I see it, a CGT will absolutely impact an average saver/investor who is covered by either of these scenarios, so again KJT has it wrong. But perhaps worse than that, a local CGT will remove the incentive to invest in NZ stocks (in that currently any CG on trade is non taxable if the shares are held for dividend income), an entirely perverse scenario.

              • Sam

                Translation: We better try and cut taxes now before public health and education collapses the economy and every one can save the world by buying more stocks. Congrats Dr, you have fallen hard for the inversion narritive. Not sure you can be helped. Less than 1% of managed funds turned a profit last year. Only way they can break even is by signing up new clients.

                • Tuppence Shrewsbury

                  I’ll bite to your idiocy Sam.

                  Any evidence that only 1% of funds turned a profit and aren’t just a massive ponzi?

                  • Sam

                    “Despite the contraction, the decline in 2018, of just over $100bn, is significantly less than the $461bn drop in 2008.”>>> https://www.ft.com/content/a9f600ca-1b2f-11e9-b93e-f4351a53f1c3

                    There’s maybe 2 moves hedge funds can choose that haven’t rolled over yet. Good luck picking the right hedge fund that will get it right with your level of education.

                    • Tuppence Shrewsbury

                      Content locked behind a paywall? Probably doesn’t relate to anything.

                      My managed KiwiSaver fund, the growth fund at milford, turned a healthy profit, so did all its other funds. So they’re 100% in the black. let’s look for more

                      Year to date positions for KiwiSaver funds at the end of dec 18 range from an average positive return for conservative funds to an average negative return for growth funds. This would imply more then more than 1% of funds make profit

                    • Sam

                      I’v copy and pasted the relevant bit for you.

                    • Tuppence Shrewsbury

                      A quote with no context is like a sausage with no sauce, dubious.

                      Ed mark 2, except your arguments are less convincing as you seem to have a subscription to the FT

              • Tuppence Shrewsbury

                Thanks Shadrach.

                I knew all those things. I just wanted to see if KJT would accept he doesn’t know as much as he thinks he does about everything. Which is probably why his businesses aren’t that successful.

                Too easy to bat away criticism of any labour plan as national politicking. It prevents proper scrutiny of any policies and will result in a new kiwi build

                • Shadrach

                  All good. KJT does post a lot of bs. Sam, on the other hand, is just plain batty.

              • KJT

                Translation.
                Shadrack and reality are only loosely acquainted.

              • KJT

                As you well know, only the wealthy buy and hold stocks for dividends.

                The rest of us have savings with fund managers that buy and sell shares.

                Saying that CGT on Kiwi saver will make any difference to most of us, is a lie.

                As you have kindly shown, those who buy shares for dividend income and don’t sell are already taxed, as are those who trade in shares.

                • Shadrach

                  “As you well know, only the wealthy buy and hold stocks for dividends.”
                  Either you have a strange definition of wealthy, or you are once again talking out of your backside. That said, you at least are acknowledging your comments around KiwiSaver and CGT are false.

        • KJT 1.1.1.3

          Kiwi saver fund managers count as “traders” in buying and selling shares.
          Hence they cannot use the, bought as an ongoing investment loophole.

          • Shadrach 1.1.1.3.1

            “Kiwi saver fund managers count as “traders” in buying and selling shares.”
            I’ll resist pointing out the obvious contradictions in you recent posts, but you’ll need to have a chat with Michael Cullen.

            “Sir Michael Cullen says the Tax Working Group is looking for ways to stop any capital gains tax from eating into people’s KiwiSaver accounts.”

            https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2018/09/fears-kiwisaver-could-be-hit-by-capital-gains-tax.html

          • Tuppence Shrewsbury 1.1.1.3.2

            So there activities will incur a CGT is what you are saying?

            • KJT 1.1.1.3.2.1

              If you are in the business of buying and selling shares, yes, you are taxed on the gains.

              • Tuppence Shrewsbury

                KiwiSaver funds buy shares, so they’ll be taxed on sale for gains. The fund then grows more slowly thanks to tax, but if it grows at all it’s taxed again.

                Ergo, the capital gains tax impacts the KiwiSaver fund more than the current tax arrangement.

                Ergo, you don’t know what you are talking about and I’d be very scared of doing business with you

              • Shadrach

                That’s not what you’ve been arguing though.

                “Kiwi saver fund managers count as “traders” in buying and selling shares.
                Hence they cannot use the, bought as an ongoing investment loophole.”

                “Investments, Loke most savings, are liable for CGT, already. To claim it will make a difference to the average saver is an outright, lie.”

                Neither of those statements was accurate. And now you’re contradicting your self.

    • I didn’t know the Govt had included or excluded ANYTHING yet. Why are people jumping to conclusions about what is in and what is out? National scaremongering is behind all of this.

      • Sam 1.2.1

        So much of the life we live has been designed by the oligarchy that has successfully brainwashed us into doing/thinking/wanting the very things that they sell.

        Start unplugging. Start by taking away the financial power of the elite. Start with Capital Gains Tax.

      • Shadrach 1.2.2

        The discussion is about the recommendations of the TWG. There are obviously close ties between Labour and that group (the chair is an ex Labour government Finance Minister), and it was a Labour led government that commissioned the TWG. The noise over the proposals of the TWG is not some National Party plot. It is reaction to the TWG’s proposals themselves, fueled to some degree by the void left by the Labour Party not having a more timely response to a working group it commissioned.

        • Sam 1.2.2.1

          7% of kiwis believe in chemtrails

          5% believe in Simon Bridges Leadership.

          Why has National Party leadership fallen in quality. I’m afraid if Simon becomes Prime Minister then the office on the 9th floor of the beehive won’t mean what it used to mean. When parliament is full of liars, thieves, con artists & imbeciles it falls on the safe hands of The New Zealand Defence Force to secure this nations democracy, And the petty whinging about what the well off may or may not pay in taxes.

          • Shadrach 1.2.2.1.1

            “Why has National Party leadership fallen in quality.”

            An admirer of John Key, were you eh Sam?

        • KJT 1.2.2.2

          National being hypocritical, as usual.

          “Haters and wreckers” is an apt description of National.

          • Shadrach 1.2.2.2.1

            Given that you’ve been shown up on your lack of understanding of CGT and it’s impact on investments, it’s hard to much of what you say seriously.

  2. AB 2

    I do think the debated has moved on a bit from 2014 – for example Guyon asking Amy Adams about her property holdings, or my barber roaring with laughter at Simon Bridge’s characterization of owning rentals as part of “the Kiwi way of life”. (Two incomes, 1 kid, mid-30’s and still renting)

    But it hasn’t moved on enough I fancy. The commentariat, including almost the entire media, belong to the social class that may have to pay something.
    It’s a funny old place Kiwiland, nice enough people, but viciously greedy at times.

  3. patricia bremner 3

    When the Government makes the decision to have CGT, they just need to put out the actual tax tables.
    Gnats can’t make up stories then.

    No one should be putting money into the Australian share market or their houses. A very shaky future there at present. Both are due for falls. A bad example by the Nats.

    The people in National want everyone in NZ to think they will lose. The biggest losers would be 2nd property owners +.

    The only capital most people have is the Michael Cullen designed Kiwi Saver, which would be twice as valuable except National halved the starter gift, lowered what the employer had to pay, and generally weakened it.

    Gnats are not counting the offsets offered by the Government to middle and lower paid Kiwi savers. Typical… just tell half the story. There would be little to pay for this group and the lowest would be better off.

    By trying to frighten these people with Kiwi Saver into voting against Capital Gains Tax, the owners of many houses properties and investments hope to dodge paying CGT, and overturn the Government. That would make us all losers.

  4. Sacha 4

    In the initial rush for angles and opinions, views in support of the capital gains tax proved difficult to find amid the roaring chorus of “no”.

    Media did not seek out the views of actual working people, renters, etc – that’s why. More betrayal of their profession’s obligations and standards.

    • ScottGN 4.1

      That’s why the line from the PM on The Nation this morning when she said she wanted to hear everyone’s views on the CGT not just columnists in the Herald was so good.

  5. Kat 5

    When will people finally realise that National will say and do anything to be in power. that is ALL they are about, managers of the status quo and piss poor at that. At least Labour/NZ First/Greens have new ideas and policies to put before the electorate for discussion. National loves playing the hard nose political game and likes to be seen as the power brokers and superior economic managers. National and poodles are in for a surprise. Labour/NZ First/Greens are enjoying being in govt and have no compunction to toss it all away. This govt won’t be dying in a ditch over a tax that affects the greedies among us.

  6. greywarshark 6

    Brian Easton has written a thoughtful column on CGT. He finishes in apologetic mood. I think that is so honest. He says it is difficult – looked at it from different perspectives.

    https://www.pundit.co.nz/content/to-tax-capital-gains-or-not-to-tax-capital-gains

    He also refers to the Minsky cycle and gives a link. Perhaps we should read about it.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyman_Minsky#Minsky's_financial_instability_hypothesis

    Hyman Philip Minsky (September 23, 1919 – October 24, 1996) was an American economist, a professor of economics at Washington University in St. Louis, and a distinguished scholar at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College. His research attempted to provide an understanding and explanation of the characteristics of financial crises, which he attributed to swings in a potentially fragile financial system.

    This is an interesting analysis in the sub-prime mortgage crisis heading.
    McCulley also points out that human nature is inherently pro-cyclical, meaning, in Minsky’s words, that “from time to time, capitalist economies exhibit inflations and debt deflations which seem to have the potential to spin out of control. In such processes, the economic system’s reactions to a movement of the economy amplify the movement – inflation feeds upon inflation and debt-deflation feeds upon debt-deflation.”

    In other words, people are momentum investors by nature, not value investors. People naturally take actions that expand the high and low points of cycles. One implication for policymakers and regulators is the implementation of counter-cyclical policies, such as contingent capital requirements for banks that increase during boom periods and are reduced during busts.

    • RedLogix 6.1

      Minsky huh …. must have been reading Steven Keen.

      Who incidentally is now proven right about the Australian house price bubble.

      • Sam 6.1.1

        It’s actually no difficulty betting against the 90% of morons who lose money on housing day in and day out. What’s more difficult is to explain to the morons in away they understand how they’re losing day on and day out. For that Steve Keen has my thanks and admiration.

  7. joe90 7

    But you get the picture.

    The tactic clearly is to come up with a number and keep repeating it and repeating it and repeating it.

    Rig the economy by rigging the dialogue. Words matter.

    This isn’t the only move, though. Another move is simply altering our collective conversation about what change is. The Stanford sociologists Aaron Horvath and Walter Powell show that these hyper-elites are very successful at changing the conversation. They’re good at making certain approaches to change look bad and making others look better. For example, elites often make charter schools look better than they are or make unions look worse than they are.

    Or elites might introduce a new concept like “resilience”, a concept that sounds great but that is actually just about adjusting to societal crappiness rather than fixing it. What wealthy people do is rig the discourse.

    https://amp.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/feb/28/anand-giridharadas-interview-winners-take-all?

  8. Observer Tokoroa 8

    Fairness

    The more Capital Gains Tax assists the lower wage and asset weak citizens of NZ, the deeper National and its dishonest money exercises will cripple Simon Bridges and his bewildered followers..

    Everyone knows that there has to be equity in a civilised Democracy. Everyone one, that is, except the likes of the immediate past Government of Sir John Key and Sir Billy English.

    Having people unable to ever own a house; or having people in a Landlord’s unregulated noose is outrageous in a Democracy.

    Capital Gains Tax is fair to all – not to the greedy nor the fraudulent.

  9. mickysavage 9

    Digging deeper into the claim taxing on an accrual basis would mean taxing presumably yearly on capital gains.

    The TAG proposes that this be at a discounted rate. So applying a tax at a full rate looks somewhat disingenuous.

    • KJT 9.1

      I don’t think the Government will ever charge a CGT, at the full personal tax rate.

      Unfortunately.

      Why should wage earners pay most of the taxes, on income earned through, work?

      We already have PIE, and taxes on shares at lower rates.

  10. Ad 10

    Government should have got its proxy commentators ready to contest the held of public opinion long before the report landed.

    There are far too few of them, and none are on talkback.

    The Capital gains Tax debate is having all the hallmarks of the Remain team from the Brexit debate: right on the facts but still losing. Tactically dumb on multiple fronts.

    I see the New Lynn MP Deborah Russell is doing a public meeting on Monday on tax.

    Because this meeting comes out before the government has proposed a position, all she can do is explain the conclusions of a report that isn’t hers. She’s not a portfolio-holder in a related field, and there’s no support from any Minister.

    Way to get eaten by a crowd Debs.

    That was why it was necessary to get proxy commentators in the field, or Ministers who are prepared to do more than bend and lace their own shoes to run backwards fast.

    • RedLogix 10.1

      It’s a mistake I’ve seen made over and over by the left.

      It’s almost as if we think our intrinsically wonderful ideas will just sell themselves ….

      • Ad 10.1.1

        The only Minister taking the hits is Twyford, and his is the only two portfolios in which they are making a real effort backed by shedloads of money and ambitious policy (pity he’s put people in that are simply wrecking his necessary public service machinery).

        Most of the rest of this government are already pretty identical to Key’s lot.

      • KJT 10.1.2

        Well we expect people to respond to sense and logic.

        However when the opposition is motivated purely by greed, for power and/or money.

        Note the hysterical opposition to CGT, from the well off, who have had 60% tax cuts since the 80’s, objecting to paying their share.

  11. Chris T 11

    So let us get this straight.

    You are blaming the opposition for simply taking advantage of the governments vagueness and inability to give any details of anything?

    I get your point, but she is a pretty self inflicted wound.

  12. McFlock 12

    Personally, I like the idea of a CGT and wait to see what the leftish parties propose for the next election. Others can debate the minutae of what doesn’t get taxed or whatever, or complain that the government hasn’t deployed enough shills to counter tory shills who are complaining about proposals that haven’t even been adopted for consideration yet.

    Soimon can whinge that the kiwi way of life is under attack – he thinks owning a slew of rental properties is normal. Even kiwisaver/cgt debates are a joke – most people “retire” with fuckall. Taxing a third of fuckall is less painful than having healthcare wait times from an underfunded DHB.

    • Kat 12.1

      Yep, and as the PM said today its not a left right ideology debate but rather about whats good for NZ. I like the way Jacinda Ardern cuts through the crap and gets to the nitty gritty. I hope to live long enough to see the blood sucking insurance leeches out of healthcare and the MOW reinstated.

  13. Observer Tokoroa 13

    What’s good for New Zealand

    A Worker – never being able to afford a house is not good for New Zealand
    A Worker – Being flogged penniless by our Dickensian Land Lords is – not good for New Zealand.

    It must be politely explained to Simon Bridges that the Wealth of NZ will be shared.

  14. KJT 14

    I will leave the last to Gorden Campbell. Who has it in a nutshell.

    “In sum, our tax base has become unusually narrow, even before we begin to consider the challenges being posed by last an ageing boomer population, automation, the gig economy (which will undermine PAYE) climate change and a range of infrastructural needs. That package of issues alone is an argument for expanding the tax base. In recent decades, we have simply become overly reliant on income tax and GST, and our company tax rate is running at above the OECD average – while our tax rate on domestic shareholders is currently the sixth lowest in the OECD.

    To be fair, not everyone who invests in shares or buys and sells property for capital gain are wealthy. But lets not kid ourselves that they’re the norm, either. In fact, the notion that a capital gains tax is against the interests and the values of ordinary New Zealanders is absurd. It is almost as absurd in fact, as National’s claim a few years ago that “Mum and Dad” investors would be the main beneficiaries of its fire sale of shares in our state energy companies. National and Act are protecting a minority interest of the top 10%, and painting this as being synonymous with the national interest. Well, it isn’t.“

  15. greywarshark 15

    Found this – it is a view on taxes being usurious that will be promoted by those who like hyperbole.

    http://pc.blogspot.com/2019/03/the-tax-collectors-office-by-pieter.html

    • KJT 15.1

      https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/John_Rogers
      “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs”.

      Where a lot of the screwed up ideas, such as people extracting money from society, are “Wealth Creators”, and “taxation is theft” originated.

  16. cleangreen 16

    National only oppose the capital gains tax because they weren’t in Government to sell it to us earlier!!!!!.

    • KJT 16.1

      National already added more CGT, the bright line test for landlords.

      Because they knew it was necessary.

      Their current opposition is simply, hypocritical.

      • indiana 16.1.1

        Are you sure the bright line test was for landlords? It was more for helping the IRD identify property speculators, those that brought and sold quickly.

        If anything National did to landlords was remove the ability to claim depreciation in your tax returns. Not a new tax, not a CGT, nothing hypocritical but a way to raise tax revenue for the government without a detrimental impact on the impact on why many people buy property for the long term investment of building their retirement fund.

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