‘Taxpayers union’ – too ‘stupid’ to understand tax?

Written By: - Date published: 9:30 am, February 26th, 2019 - 59 comments
Categories: capital gains, Dirty Politics, Economy, journalism, Politics, tax, uncategorized - Tags:

There is a classic piece of waffle in the NZ Herald this morning with a stupid title about when capital gains tax applies to the family home. Now the conditions are pretty simple. There are two cases:-

  • When a ‘family home’ is used in part as a business and collects business taxable deductions for that business. When it is partially (less than 50%) used as boarding house by running as an Airbnb, have flatmates in to pay the mortgage, and using the family home as an office for a business.  Then if the owner claims business expenses from taxation like interest of rates then they forgo the protection against CGT because the property has been used as a business.

    This isn’t rocket science. Double dipping on tax relief may be beloved by the greedy, but is irritating as hell to the other taxpayers who have to pick up the tab.
  • If the building and the land is more than 4500m– which to me seems eminently fair. If it is that that damn big then it clearly isn’t a residence. It is either monument to waste or being used for a commercial reason.

However like many things involving  fairness, this confuses the ‘taxpayers union’.

The Taxpayers’ Union says the caveats were confusing.

“Taxpayers have been told by the Working Group and the Government that the family home will be exempt, but it turns out that in a variety of circumstances that’s not quite true,” a spokesman said.

I guess that the economists in their organisation couldn’t explain it?

Possibly because the ‘Taxpayers Union’  is a well-known mouthpiece for the greedy who try to offload paying taxes from the excessively wealthy to actual taxpayers. But don’t trust me when I say this. Just try this simple test…

Try to find any time that the ‘Taxpayers Union’ has ever supported changes to taxes that would benefit the bottom 50% of income earners and not benefit more the to 5%. Every time that I have looked at any of their public utterances, they invariably favour regressive taxes like increases to GST over raising wealth taxation like CGT and they favour cutting public services that assist those without means or that provide incentives for public good like R&D.

All of the while they do this with hypocrisy, insisting that the government should be completely transparent while concealing who actually pays for the ‘Taxpayers Union’ – something that no-one seems to know.

Personally I suspect that they are simply a right-wing PR company selling their skills to the highest bidder without any sense of who or what they damage. Exactly like Cameron Slater did with Whaleoil prior to the release of Dirty Politics. 

They will last as long for as long as there are credulous, ignorant or lazy journalists around hunting for cheap copy. Or while the TP don’t get investigated too deeply – because there is certain to be an interesting story about them.  

 

59 comments on “‘Taxpayers union’ – too ‘stupid’ to understand tax?”

  1. Booker 1

    Thanks to The Guardian we know one of their funders is big tobacco, but of course there must be others.

    • Yeah, why aren’t the Taxpayers Onion transparent about their funding? Seems a little hypocritical given their supposed purpose is to scrutinise Government funding.

      • woodart 1.1.1

        very good point, but as with most right wing outfits, the taxpayers bunion has very flexible morals that mostly are only for others, not themselves. there flatulent outbursts should come with a “believe at your own risk” health warning. most or all of there nonsence is shallow of thought, and easily picked apart by any thinking person. if many of our media wernt so damn lazy, the taxpayers bunion(thanks greywarshark) would have been laughed out of the public eye six months after they spawned.

  2. greywarshark 2

    I reckon we never should refer to the ‘Taxpayers Union’ again. The most appropriate nomenclature is ‘Taxpayers Bunion’. The meaning of bunion:

    a painful swelling on the first joint of the big toe.
    (Cambridge English Dictionary.)

    This is a very apt description of them in their position in politics and society.
    It also may apply to those who give them the treatment they deserve. They definitely are among the deserving, when it comes to recognition of the perpetrators of the ills of our society and economy.

    • NZJester 2.1

      Oh come on that is a bit unfair isn’t it comparing a Bunion to the Taxdodgers Union?
      After all, there are ways to mitigate some of the pain caused by a bunion, but at the moment there is no easy way to mitigate the pain caused by them. Also, they are a pain in the arse not a pain in the big toe.

  3. Observer Tokoroa 3

    Hi Lprent
    I agree with your words. The kindy lads and lasses don’t seem to know what a home is.

    However, We never have expected Greed to be a nice feature of Wealthy NZ Stock.

    How else can you explain the hellish low wages, miserly farmers, the cruel cost of food and energy, and the monstrous high level of NZ Poverty ? Only the wealthy can cope with it. And they never think of it !

    We have always suspected the TaxPayers Union to be a Coven of Crooks. Their very name is a shitload of falsehood and flirting. Oddities. Surplus to requirement.

  4. Alan 4

    We have a group of friends that run small businesses from home.
    They are generally in their mid 60s, have retired from full time work but still want to use their skills.
    Collectively they offer services in areas such as accounting, document preparation, law, personal fitness training, architecture etc.
    They generally provide these services to other small enterprises.
    They make a valuable contribution on all levels.
    Discouraging this type of enterprise is pathetic and certainly is an attack on the Kiwi way of life.

    • Craig Glen Eden 4.1

      Alan you seem a little confused. Either that or you are just talking politically biased crap.The Government are not trying to encourage or discourage work from home.But they are trying to make taxation more fair and consistent. So Its quite simple if you claim a tax reduction as a business expense by using your home as a business it’s only fair that for tax purposes you are taxed in a consistent manner surely? I work from home I have no problem with this as it is only fair and reasonable on other tax payers.

    • Ed1 4.2

      “Discouraging this type of enterprise is pathetic and certainly is an attack on the Kiwi way of life.”

      All taxes discourage all types of enterprise – why is this situation so different that it should be exempt? A home based business enables a reduction in income taxes – is it unreasonable that when the house is sold, some allowance should be made for it having being partly a commercial property for some part of its ownership? I don’t know how the calculation would be made, but if say 15% had been claimed to be commercial for 3 years out of 20 years of ownership after 2021, would it be reasonable to charge capital gains on say 15% of 3/20ths of the capital gain since 2021 – ie on 2.25 % of those gains. I presume there is an option to not claim business expenses in the first place for a share of rates etc – more fine print to keep an army of home businesses to contemplate while seeking to select options to minimise taxes of whatever sort!

      • greywarshark 4.2.1

        Rubbish – All taxes discourage all types of enterprise
        Repeating rote learning. So handy that. Get the message, record a statement purporting to come from you, press the button and out it comes.

        I have seen a parrot that would play back what you say to it. What fun to have a parrot or facsimile of a NZ RW economist or politician or bellicose broadcaster hanging in a public place where lefties meet and repeating all the cliches like the one above.

        It would be an amusing backdrop to go with the chat, backchat, beers and wines.
        Or perhaps have a juke box where you could hear a collection of the wit and wisdom of someone, for about 1 minute when it would stop being funny.

      • KJT 4.2.2

        How come the most enterprising and innovative economies, have the highest taxes.

        Simply compare California and Washington State with Arkansas and Texas.

        In fact the taxes paid by the first two enable the latter to remain viable.

    • Gabby 4.3

      They’ve been getting their rebates no ally?

    • Discouraging this type of enterprise is pathetic and certainly is an attack on the Kiwi way of life.

      Somehow, most of us manage to overcome successive anti-kiwi governments’ attempts to “discourage” us via income tax from going to work in the morning, and to “discourage” us via GST from buying groceries. Perhaps owners of small businesses aren’t quite such delicate flowers as you imagine them to be, and will similarly succeed in overcoming such “discouragement.”

      • In Vino 4.4.1

        Quite right, PM. I used to think that it was the good time I had enjoyed over the weekend that made me so disheartened about having to go back to work on Monday. Now I clearly understand that it was having to pay tax on the income gained by the sweat of my brow that was undermining my morale.
        Double points for hypocrisy go to the Righties who demand spirited, devoted input from their income-taxed employees, but cannot maintain any form of morale themselves if they cannot go tax-free. Poor little petals.

    • lprent 4.5

      Hey Allen – please don’t be a stupid dipshit like the economists at the TU.

      The reason why this is simple is because it is an optional choice. You either claim tax deductions using your home as a business and then pay CGT or you don’t claim and don’t pay CGT.

      What you won’t be able to do is to claim tax examptions twice… Thereby penalising other taxpayers by being a bloated greedy bastard.

      Since my partner is running her business from home, this is exactly the choice that we will probably make in the next few years after CGT legislation comes into force. For that matter, sometime in the next decade I will probably get bored with work and want to “retire” to making software from home.

      In either case, the few tax deductions we could make from our place of residence are likely to be too small to be worth trying to collect. They would be less than the cost of the accounting.

      • Craig H 4.5.1

        Home office expenses are much simplified compared to previous years, so shouldn’t add to the accounting expenses, but I agree that choosing between home office expenses and no CGT is easy and fair.

    • patricia bremner 4.6

      You could rent a cabin as an office, you all share, so you can claim your tax, and I believe this separates it from the home. People do this in the UK.

    • Jimmy 4.7

      May end up being better to rent external office space and claim as normal tax deduction in the business

    • Paul Campbell 4.8

      If they don’t claim the tax write-offs from their home offices etc they won’t be subject to CGT

  5. bwaghorn 5

    If I rent out a room for ten years then dont rent out a room for the following 5 years then sell do I pay cgt.

    • greywarshark 5.1

      The 50% usage would come in here woudn’t it. And whether you had paid taxes on part of it as income – has been 20% of total and whether it was board to a member of the family.

      The parametrers seem fairly reasonable, not harder than those a car driver has to learn. I don’t think we are dumb, it will be just another thing to learn about and get used to.

    • lprent 5.2

      This is where the detail of the legislation will be important. However since the IRD knows exactly what you claimed as deductions, I suspect that the pro rata basis that the TWG were pushing will be the result.

      But the simplest process would be to sell your commercial property to yourself – paying CGT on the way through.

  6. bwaghorn 6

    They say farm houses are exempt but most claim a portion of their housing costs as business expenses.
    How is that different to renting a room or doing child care.?

    Fucking over complicated isnt it .
    Can it and just change the tax brackets put a cgt on shares and toughen the bright line test.

  7. Enough is Enough 7

    I think your post highlights the biggest issue with the report. It is complex.

    There is so much to take in and National is doing their best to highlight the perceived anomalies (even though the majority of them are bullshit).

    I think Labour just needs to weed out the weird parts of the report and present a simple CGT to the public that National can’t attack.

    The beauty of GST is it broad based and easy for everyone to understand. The CGT needs to have that same simplicity so that simple Tories can understand it.

    • Peter 7.1

      Tax issues are complex aren’t they? Isn’t that why people use accountants and lawyers and move money all around the world, etc?

    • lprent 7.2

      The problem is that all changes to tax are ‘complex’.

      Back in 1986-8 I was running around Otago and upper Southland putting in computer systems to help to deal with the ‘complexity’ of the impending and post arrival of GST. Now there was a tax that virtually no complexity. For businesses it was a blunt instrument of a straight 10% on almost all sales complete with deductions of the GST on goods and services supplied. There were virtually no exemptions or conditions. The weight of the cost arrived on the end consumers.

      It was still pretty complex for many of the firms I dealt with because they didn’t have accounting records of either their supplies or their sales. They had to put in their first accounting systems manual or computerised.

      Actually this one is simple compared to either that, or even to the last tax working group back in 2009 with their bloody awful maths about ‘tax neutral and non-regressive’ increases in GST and decreases in income tax that were not tax neutral and impoverished those with low incomes far more than those large incomes.

  8. Wayne 8

    Jacinda is not going to be so stupid as to apply CGT to the family home, even if it has a home office or a bit of Air B&B or rental of a room to a boarder.
    While that might appeal to Lprent and the commenters on this item it would be just about the dumbest political judgment a prime minister could make.
    The PM knows she can probably/possibly sell a modest CGT, but not more than that.
    Certainly not on the family home, even if it has a bedroom being used as an office!

    • ianmac 8.1

      Perhaps having “The PM knows she can probably/possibly sell a modest CGT, but not more than that,” Is a beginning on which future Governments can extend like the Bright Line was. In maybe 2026 National might scramble back into power and presto, they will “modify” the CGT to increase revenue without recalling Simon’s frantic calls against it all.

      • Wayne 8.1.1

        inmac,

        You misunderstand National. While they might not repeal a modest CGT (if they didn’t get elected into government till 2023 or 2026), which was the equivalent of the Australian CGT, they would not extend it. But if they did get elected in 2020 they would have to repeal it. It would be part of their campaign committments.

        The Liberals in Australia have never repealed the CGT, even though they have been in power for most of the time since it was enacted in 1987. The reason being that it is not too onerous. It takes account of inflation, the rate is 15%, the family home is exempt and I think there are other exemptions as well. But they have not extended it.

        National essentially believes govt should not be more than about 30% of GDP. In large measure that is a philosophical premise. It reflects the belief that people should be able to keep the bulk of their income, and that in the interests of liberty, the government should not be too big and intrusive.

        Taxes are designed to reflect that. That usually requires a significant tax reduction package every few years, just to take account of inflation and GDP growth. Not a tax increase package.

        Interestingly Labour has bought into that to a significant extent. Their Fiscal Responsibility Rules has the government as being around 30% of GDP. Obviously Labour governments spend more than National, but the difference is no longer huge (and haven’t been for the last 35 years). It is not as if Labour has a dramatic plan to extend the size of government by a UBI, or re-nationalising the economy. Their ambitions are more modest, though still significantly different to National.

        • KJT 8.1.1.1

          Unfortunately.

          Poverty will continue to increase and our infrastructure will decay to an untenable degree, because, “Freedom”.

          What the Neo-liberals really mean is “their freedom” to continue to rip us off, unhindered by democracy.

          People are not “free” if they cannot escape the poverty trap.

          No mixed economy has succeeded with that little Government spending.

          The lack of investment is already apparent.

        • left_forward 8.1.1.2

          “National essentially believes govt should not be more than about 30% of GDP. In large measure that is a philosophical premise. It reflects the belief that people should be able to keep the bulk of their income, and that in the interests of liberty, the government should not be too big and intrusive.”

          Thank you Wayne I concur that this is the essential dogma of the current right wing perspective, greatly influenced by the libertarian views and neo-liberalism.

          I suspect that the 30% of GDP is entirely pragmatic (rather than philosophical) however as libertarians cannot understand why they should pay any tax at all because they feel that all taxation is theft. Social Philosophy has long debated this point and in a modern context the libertarian view does not stand up to close scrutiny.

          The left wing position rejects it, and believes that there is a legitimate role for a larger Government and that the only way to maintain a fair, safe, and just society is for there to be a mechanism for the re-distribution of wealth through taxation.

          I believe that Labour will soon get to the point where it will feel secure enough to fully abandon the last vestiges of the libertarian dogma that tragically dominated the Labour movement from 1984 – the sooner it is entirely gone the better.

          • Wayne 8.1.1.2.1

            left_forward,

            Well, yes the actual figure of 30% is pragmatic, but the principle behind it is not.

            I appreciate the left wing (really the more left wing part) does believe in a much bigger government than we currently have. But I don’t believe that is the general expectation of the public.

            For instance to lift the size of government to 35% of GDP would require a $13 billion dollar increase in taxes, that is, one sixth of existing tax revenue. All tax rates would have to increase. That amount could not be got off the highest 10% of incomes. To go to 40% of GDP would mean a $26 billion tax increase, one third greater than present. That would require the level of taxes that existed prior to 1984, with a top rate of over 60% on at least the top third of all income earners.

            Jacinda is not going to do that. She is not going to go into the 2020 election with that kind of policy.

            Even a Labour/Green government (no NZF) would not do it. They won’t have the mandate, not in 2020. Such a shift would require the Green party to be the dominant part of government. I simply can’t see that happening, not at the next election and not in 2023.

            After that it is almost certain, based on the electoral cycle that has lasted the last 100 years, that National will be in power.

            • KJT 8.1.1.2.1.1

              Taxes can be on things other than wage and salary incomes.

              And private firms tax also. Like the banks percentage on every cashflow transaction.

              Many people are starting to notice, as with power bills.
              If you cut State provision from taxes, the average households outgoings, go up, not down.

            • left_forward 8.1.1.2.1.2

              Your 40% of GDP tax scenario is very attractive to me. Can you imagine the restoration of quality health, education, social services and social housing As a result of such potential investment. The quality of life for all would immediately be lifted and NZ would be a far kinder, fairer, and more enjoyable place to live. Why would NZers not aspire to that Wayne?
              The reason is that they have been subject to relentless propaganda about the lies and so called benefits of a low tax society by those with vested interests.

              • KJT

                When my top tax rate was 60% on the dollar, there was also this huge list of “free” Government services paid with my tax.

                It costs us more for those basic services now, than we gained with tax cuts.

                In fact the extra power bill alone, from power privatisation, puts a big hole in those cuts.

                Not to mention all the compounding costs from poverty, lack of infrastructure investment, and lack of research and development, piling up, with a bill for the future.

                Of course those chanting tax cuts, never bother to mention the services that will be cut, at the same time.

            • KJT 8.1.1.2.1.3

              And here we have the full horror, of the ideological disaster inflicted on us since the 80’s.

              For no other reason that some deluded twits think “Small Government good”, “Democracy bad”. Hell we may even vote, like California, to reverse tax cuts on the rich.

              With the other sources of Government income sold, in a fire sale, the expectations of the rich that they shouldn’t be taxed, and National’s ideologically inspired campaigns against more taxes, it will take decades to reverse the damage done, by successive Neo-liberal Governments.

              Britain will probably never recover from Thatcher.

              We will probably never recover, from the last 30 years.

        • Muttonbird 8.1.1.3

          Funny how Labour’s beliefs are ideological, and National’s are philosophical.

        • Stuart Munro 8.1.1.4

          Yeah well of course National are a pack of fools.

          Fish an arbitrary figure out of thin air like say, 30%, and pretend that has some relation to good governance – pitiful, frankly.

          You were one of the best of that tragic collection of ambulant dog tucker, but crap like this reminds us, that not even the best of the Gnats has a shred of rational policy. Which goes a long way to explaining their miserable performance in government.

          • Wayne 8.1.1.4.1

            Hmm,

            You will also have to take that complaint up with Labour as well. They also adopted the 30% figure in their Fiscal Responsibility rules.

            • Sam 8.1.1.4.1.1

              Wayne doing as Wayne does best. Kicking government debt along the narritive that 20% of the GDP in taxes can pay for 30% or more in government debt.

              • Wayne

                You have got your numbers mixed up, though maybe as a joke.

                • Sam

                  If I have got it mixed up its because I got those numbers from your replys. Care to comment on the utility of your own numbers?

                  • Wayne

                    The 30% relates to the size of government as a percentage of the economy (GDP). The 20% relates to the amount of government debt as a size of the economy. They are not directly related.

                    However, in contemporary times they are both seen as a prudent measure of the size of government in our society by both the moderate right and the moderate left.

                    Obviously the Green Party and the left wing of Labour want a larger government than 30% of GDP, just as ACT and the right of National would prefer a smaller size.

                    As for myself, anywhere from 28% to 32% seems reasonable. For instance at 32% that is an extra $5 billion spending per year above the present level, basically most of the surplus. You could do a lot with that.

                    I happen to think the current tax structure is basically OK. I would not be that concerned if there was a higher rate of income tax on income above $150,000 or $200,000, But I would expect the current 30% and 33% thresholds to shift up a fair bit.

                    I also would not be that concerned about an Australian style CGT (inflation taken into account, a rate of 15%, and a decent exemption for lower level investments, small business and farms). Whether that happens we shall see. I can’t see Winston agreeing to any more than that, and perhaps not even that. After all his voters will be mostly opposed to a CGT.

                    • Sam

                      All right then, you got me, you can gloat now. Mainly because I can’t be arsed checking to see if you said it was National Party Philosophy to have the size of government set at 20% of the GDP. It’s easier to just put it down as rent money.

                      You pay landlords rent, and they, assuming they’re not total slum lords, keep the place running. Elevators that work, doors that don’t fall down in a stiff breeze, security in the nicer places, that kind of thing.

                      Only you’re paying for welfare, roads, police and fire services, streetlights, road sweeps and other infrastructure services that keep the cities from descending into a Arab State set.

                      Lowest company tax rate in the world:

                      Qatar: 10%
                      Singapore: 17%
                      Saudi Arabia: 20%

                      The choice of company tax rate is obvious.

                    • Pat

                      we are currently at 32 % (and were under National)…which makes your additional 5 billion a non event

                      https://www.oecd.org/tax/revenue-statistics-new-zealand.pdf

                    • alwyn

                      I think your comment on what the Australian CGT entails are wrong to a degree.
                      I really can’t be bothered trying to explain it is full but inflation is no longer taken into account, unless you actually held the assets prior to 21 September 1999.

                      The tax rate is only 15% on SMSF’s. An individual may get a discount of 50% on the amount of the capital gain but the tax on that is at your full marginal tax rate. At the moment the maximum tax rate can be 45% plus a medicare (usually 2%).
                      A Company gets no discount and is taxed at 30%.
                      For an SMSF the discount is 33.3%.
                      The rules for a small business exist but they are pretty restrictive.
                      I’m not sure if there are any particular exemptions for a farm except for a partial exemption if your main residence is on the property. Other than that it would possibly be classed as a small business.

                      If you are really a sucker for punishment, which I doubt, the rules are all here.
                      https://www.ato.gov.au/general/capital-gains-tax/

    • lprent 8.2

      The problem is with allowing weasel room just encourages accountants to rip off other taxpayers.

      Simple choices are better. So making the decision either one or the other is better.

      Personally I’d be happy with simply making it so that you can’t get tax deductions for family homes. They should be reserved for declared business premises.

      • woodart 8.2.1

        possibly the answer is to tax accountants at a higher rate and also offshore as much accountancy work as possible to kill off there work (just like accountants have for most other sections of NZ society). I have long advocated that treasury should be outsourced to delhi, save us at least $500 million a year, and give them a taste of their own medicine.

        • greywarshark 8.2.1.1

          woodart
          Like that.

        • KJT 8.2.1.2

          Treasury, over the several decades may as well have been replaced by a Don Brash puppet, chanting, “sell everything”, “tax cuts”, “raise interest rates”.

          • greywarshark 8.2.1.2.1

            kjt
            I put up something about Brash and then I thought it would be better in should we have CGT so transferred it there.

  9. Observer Tokoroa 9

    Under the Auspices of Justice

    A) …IF POVERTY Continues

    Given that the Wealthy have had a nice time handing out appalling conditions, low Wages expensive Heating; High cost Food; and avoiding Tax – what exactly should civilised New zealand Citizens do ?

    B) …If it is no LONGER Possible for a NZ WORKER to PURCHASE a HOME….

    What should people with homes be forced to do? Should their Capital, Land and Money be held by the State ? Until Workers can afford a home of their own.

    C) … IF LANDLORDS Can charge any FEE they LIKE…..

    What should be done with their Property ? How many years in Prison should be given to the LandLord for excessive cruelty to Tennants?

  10. Bauble 10

    They strongly oppose the $2 billion tobacco tax which is overwhelmingly a transfer from the poor to the rich.

  11. tc 11

    Great piece. I picked up granny whilst waiting for a coffee yesterday to see a front page of scaremongering and spin over the CGT PROPOSALS.

    You’d think it was a real tax about to be levied the way people get sucked in. Nice work really here between gran and dirty politics 2.0 (TU) on behalf of the top end of town.

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