Tumbleweeds from National on the Tax Working Group

Written By: - Date published: 12:37 pm, December 21st, 2017 - 40 comments
Categories: capital gains, national, tax - Tags: , , , , ,

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A month ago Labour announced that Sir Michael Cullen would chair the tax working group and the National Party was cock-a-hoop! Steven Joyce said: “Sir Michael is many things but a politically independent voice on taxation policy he is not,”

Judith Collins had fun with it too, in her regular spot on Newshub she dubbed the working group a “load of bollocks” and described Cullen as a skilled political operator, but not a tax expert nor non-partisan.

But now it seems they may have fallen into the classic trap for young players in opposition politics – getting all gleeful about something that looks like a great ‘gotcha’ before the full picture emerges.

Because yesterday the government announced the full list of tax working group members. They are:

  • Professor Craig Elliffe, University of Auckland
  • Joanne Hodge, former tax partner at Bell Gully
  • Kirk Hope, Chief Executive of Business New Zealand
  • Nick Malarao, senior partner at Meredith Connell
  • Geof Nightingale, partner at PwC New Zealand
  • Robin Oliver, former Deputy Commissioner at Inland Revenue
  • Hinerangi Raumati, Chair of Parininihi ki Waitotara Inc
  • Michelle Redington, Head of Group Taxation and Insurance at Air New Zealand
  • [Bill] Rosenberg, Economist and Director of Policy at the CTU
  • Marjan Van Den Belt, Assistant Vice Chancellor (Sustainability) at Victoria University of Wellington

Interesting that there was no quote from the opposition in that piece. And looking at Scoop, and the National Party website, I can see nothing but tumbleweeds on this issue coming up to a full day after the announcement.

Have their finance and revenue spokespeople swanned off for an early Christmas already?

Surely they would have something to say about the appointment of noted pinko Kirk Hope from that great bastion of socialism Business New Zealand amongst others!

Or is this actually a fairly balanced looking group of incredibly well-qualified folks?

You can criticise the tax working group from the left for not challenging the status quo enough and for being compromised by the government already ruling out too many potentially useful tools. But, looking at that line-up, you can’t easily criticise it from the right for being a bunch of shills that will just go along with a Capital Gains Tax.

Better luck next time blue team!

40 comments on “Tumbleweeds from National on the Tax Working Group”

  1. red-blooded 1

    Heh heh…😄

  2. You can criticise the tax working group from the left for not challenging the status quo enough and for being compromised by the government already ruling out too many potentially useful tools.

    Yep, that’s about all we can do. They’re findings will be BAU and Labour and NZ1st will stick to them. National will support them as well.

    We can hope that the Greens don’t and that we’ll see a rise in their support because of that.

  3. cleangreen 3

    As a blue collar worker I have no idea whonthe others onthee tax working group are execpt for Sir Michael Cullen who was so gracious to us in 2015-2007 when in Napier and he graciously allowed us as a local transpot group to meet him four times at his home in Napier as we asked him as Finance minister to buy back our rail asset and he being very smart knew just how much “the value of rail in New Zealand” was before labour entered Government in October 2017 and found this report;


    An Ernst and Young report for the NZ Transport Agency in 2016 — The Value of Rail in New Zealand — put that value at $1.5 billion. The report was not made public until recently.

    Sir michael Cullen is a very clever, assute asset to our country and I welcome his chairmanship of this Tax working group.

    Good luck Sir Michael and take care of our country and its people’s future.

    • indiana 3.1

      You make it sound like he hold the final decision…I thought he was just the chairperson. All I’m expecting him to do is make sure the meetings keep to schedule.

  4. cleangreen 4


  5. Tanz 5

    And how many people voted for Cullen exactly? Oh yes, no one. Shows the daftness of MMP, how undemocratic it is. And so much for the next generation stepping up, instead it’s just the old team. Roll on 2020, this is a rort.

    • opium 5.1

      Yes dear.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 5.2

      I just want to make sure you don’t miss the fact that David Farrar says National has lost support since the election, Tanzy.

      How many votes did Wayne Mapp get for his position at the Law Commission, Tanzy?

      • Thinkerrr 5.2.1

        IMHO National are playing a dangerous game, but from their performance over the past 9 years maybe its the only game in town.

        They’re simply knocking everything the government comes up with. Doing that will only succeed if everything the government does turns to custard.

        If it does, then National gets the moral high ground. If not, it will get a reputation like the old 1950s British unionists, of knocking everything, good or bad. The supposed $11b shortfall is an example of an own goal and National cant afford too many.

        But the odds are not on Nationals side. Even if everything this new government tries has an 80% chance of falure, there is only about a 25% chance it will all go wrong after only 5 new initiatives.

        But it seems to me they spent most of their 9 years in government blaming Clark’s government for their own neglect of the bottom 90% until that wouldnt wash any longer. This particular incarnation of National seems to me like a dinosaur whose tail is being eaten but the message hasnt reached its head yet.

      • srylands 5.2.2

        What I am detecting is people thinking that maybe the government is not going to do anything too radical at all. The fiscal thing is still a worry. But on the fundamentals, it is not changing anything. And it may even tackle some problems with refreshed energy, e.g water, housing, mental health.

        So I’m feeling good. 😁

        • Tracey

          What do you mean the “fiscal thing”? Are you referring tot he zero budget? Like the ones run by English and key in 2014 and 2015, or do you mean something else?

    • Grey Area 5.3


    • And how many people voted for Cullen exactly? Oh yes, no one.

      Cullen isn’t part of the government. He’s chair of a working group that the government has initiated as one of it’s promises.

      You complaining about it is showing your political bias and stupidity. Or were you also complaining about National’s working groups that were chaired by other people outside of government?

      • Tanz 5.4.1

        More people voted for National over Labour, the majority don’t want all the taxes that are coming, this is a rort. Luckily in three years time or less, it will be corrected.

        • Incognito

          National did not and does not have a majority. No party has ever held a majority under MMP in New Zealand. Your denial of reality does not pay you any credit; please stop embarrassing yourself.

          In the 2014 Election only 16,689 (0.69%) people voted for ACT and yet we got lumped with Charter Schools when clearly the majority did not want them.

        • fender

          So basically you won’t stop this crap until Lab. NZF and Greens form one party. Is that the only way you may see that they have a majority? Stop acting like a simpleton, no new taxes have been announced. Don’t you understand the difference between a working group and new legislation?

        • Draco T Bastard

          The majority didn’t vote for National.

          • Incognito

            I think we can keep saying this till the cows come home but it will simply be ignored as sophistry as long as the National Party elite makes claims stating the opposite.

    • srylands 5.5

      You sound sound a bit crazy. Michael Cullen being appointed to a working group is not a function of MMP.

      I don’t have major issues with the working group. I would have preferred more tax experts. But hopefully this weakness will be attenuated by the Secretariat that supports the group.

    • Tracey 5.6

      You must have hated the Job Summit in 2009. Promised in lieu of policy in the 2008 election. promised to solve job losses in the GFC. Just ended by being a talk fest with a cycle way that was still not completed in 9 years. Full of people that no one voted for that one.

  6. UncookedSelachimorpha 6

    Actually I think the make up of the tax working group is not great, as outlined in my comment yesterday .

    I think 60% of them represent the interests of the richest 1% – who pay as little tax as possible and want to keep it that way.

    Unfortunately Labour seems to have muddled “being rich and chasing money” with “knowing something of benefit for the economy and society” here.

    • +111

      We’re going to have to do it again once we have a Green government but I’m sure this one will take a step or two in the right direction.

      Wonder if this working group could ask why businesses have tax deductions and why people or actually work and have expenses from that work don’t.

      • indiana 6.1.1

        Because we have fair tax system as it is.

        • Draco T Bastard

          No we don’t.

          If we had a fair tax system then rich people wouldn’t be able to avoid paying $7 billion per year in taxes.

          • Ed

            And trillions in tax havens.

          • srylands

            Perhaps I need to get a better accountant. He prepares my personal and company tax returns. And every year I need to pay about $75000 in tax. Huh. He never told me about this option of “avoiding” tax.

            • dv

              It is good to see you showing social responsibility and not looking to ‘avoid’ tax.

              • srylands

                I’m not showing social responsibility. My accountant will do everything legally possible to minimise my tax bill. That is not “avoiding” tax. It is simply applying the tax codes as designed.

                • solkta

                  That is called “Tax Avoidance”

                  “The arrangement of one’s financial affairs to minimize tax liability within the law.”

                  You are thinking of “Tax Evasion”

                  “The illegal non-payment or underpayment of tax.”


                • I’m not showing social responsibility.

                  Which is a sociopathic action.

                • dv

                  I’m not showing social responsibility

                  OH well glad we got that cleared up.

                  Sort of sounds like the beneficiaries that screw as much as they can legally from the govt!!

                  • UncookedSelachimorpha

                    But remember we hate those bludging beneficiaries – but srylands and co are hard working kiwi battlers

              • Stuart Munro

                $75000 is a magic number – the sum typically paid by those with tax minimization options.

            • UncookedSelachimorpha

              Before embarking on any actual avoidance (legal or otherwise) the system already allows wealthy people to pay far less tax.

              The increase in the value of your business – which for many business owners is their largest source of wealth gain – is entirely tax free. Untaxed capital gains are not available to poorer people, and capital gains are the #1 source of new wealth for the already wealthy. Go figure.

        • UncookedSelachimorpha

          Yeah….in the sense that Trump has just made the US tax system even “fairer”…

    • Tracey 6.2

      I agree. But having backed away from income tax it is something of a damp squib.

      But certainly telling that there is no representation of vulnerable tax paying groups or the majority of taxpayers.

      “Business” as usual.

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