Govt eyes NZ$1.4 bln extra revenue over next four years as tobacco excise hiked, mixed-use and livestock rules tightened, tax compliance increased

Finance Minister Bill English

By Alex Tarrant

The government’s bid to hit a NZ$197 million surplus in 2014/15 will be aided by an expected NZ$1.4 billion worth of new revenue over the next four years.

Finance Minister Bill English announced on Thursday that tobacco excise would rise by 10% a year in each of the next four years, on top of the annual inflation-indexed increases. That follows a 40% hike  in excise since April 2010.

The excise hikes are expected to bring in NZ$528 million over four years.

Increased tax compliance activity, debt collection, and following up on unfiled tax returns would save NZ$423.8 million over four years.

Tightening of tax deductibility rules for mixed-use assets, such as holiday homes, would bring in NZ$109 million over the four years.

Tightening of livestock valuation rules would bring in NZ$184 million over the four years.

And the removal of three tax credits would save NZ$117.1 million over the four years.

Tax changes

Revenue Minister Peter Dunne said steps to close loopholes and update the tax credit system would bring in hundreds of millions of dollars of extra revenue over the next four years.

“This continues the Government’s work over the previous three Budgets to protect its revenue base and ensure the tax system is fairer for all taxpayers,” Dunne said.

The changes include:

·        Tightening the rules around the deductibility of costs relating to assets that are both used by their owners and rented out for income, such as holiday homes, boats, and aircraft. The changes are expected to save about $109 million over the next four years.

·        Putting changes to livestock valuation rules into Budget legislation to prevent farmers who change valuation schemes receiving an unintended tax break. The changes will reverse what would otherwise have been an estimated $184 million fall in operating revenue over the next four years. 

·        Removing three tax credits which no longer fit the purpose for which they were set up – the income-under-$9,880 tax credit, the childcare and housekeeper tax credit, and the tax credit for the active income of children, which will be replaced by a limited exemption. The changes will save $117 million over the next four years.

“These changes will help modernise the tax system and ensure tax deductions and tax credits are being targeted to areas where they are intended and needed,” Dunne said.

Mixed-use assets

“In the case of mixed-use assets, such as a holiday home, it is unfair that owners can claim a tax deduction for the majority of their costs because it is available for rent or hire, even if it is mainly used privately. In effect, they are getting a taxpayer subsidy for their private use of the asset,” he said.

The new rules would require mixed-use asset owners to apportion their deductions based on the actual income earned and private use of the asset.

For example, owners who rented out their holiday home for 30 days in a year and used it themselves for 30 days in a year will be able to claim a deduction for 50 per cent of their general costs, rather than the 90 per cent they could claim now.

Livestock valuation

“In the case of livestock valuations, the previous rules were too loose and allowed some farmers switching between the two main livestock valuation methods to receive an unfair tax advantage over those farmers who applied the rules as they were intended,” Dunne said.

In March, the Government announced it would disallow farmers to move from the ‘herd scheme’ to the alternative ‘national standard cost scheme’, except in narrow circumstances, effective from 18 August 2011. Budget legislation would put that into law, with details to be included in the next omnibus tax bill.

Tax credits

“The three tax credits we are removing in Budget 2012 have become poorly targeted. For example, the bottom 30 per cent of households make up just 11 per cent of childcare and housekeeper tax credit claimants,” Dunne said.

“Their use, in most cases, is now quite different from what was originally intended. For example, the income-under-$9,880 tax credit was originally put in place in 1986 to protect full-time workers on low wages, but it no longer applies to that group,” he said.

“The childcare and housekeeper tax credit has been superseded in recent years by other government support, such as Working for Families and 20 hours free early childhood education.

“Times have changed, society has changed, and wider government policies have changed. The Government believes its spending on these tax credits could be better directed to areas of higher need,” Dunne said.

The tax credit for children would be replaced by a limited tax exemption to ensure that children would not need to file a tax return if they earned small amounts of ‘in the hand’ income that would not usually be taxed at source – for example, from babysitting or mowing the neighbour’s lawn.

However, children would no longer be able to claim a refund of tax that had already been correctly deducted and paid by an employer. These changes would take effect from the 2012/13 tax year.

People filing their 2011/12 tax returns could still claim these credits.


Finally, Budget 2012 will provide Inland Revenue with an extra $78.4 million over the next four years to bolster its tax compliance activities in dealing with the hidden economy, debt collection, and following up on unfiled returns, Dunne said.

“In Budget 2010, the Government allocated an additional $119.3 million over four years for the department to strengthen its compliance and debt activities.

“The return on investment from that funding in the first year was encouraging, Dunne said.

Extra tax of $86.9 million was assessed, representing a return of $6.62 for every dollar invested in the hidden economy and the property sector. An additional $115.3 million of tax debt was recovered – a return of $9.50 for every dollar invested.

“The extra compliance activities in Budget 2012 are estimated to have a net positive impact on the operating balance of $345.4 million over the four years to 2015/16,” Dunne said.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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Here's what S&P has to say:
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said today that the New Zealand government's proposed 2013 budget will have no immediate effect on Standard & Poor's ratings on New Zealand (foreign currency rating AA/Stable/A-1+; local currency rating AA+/Stable/A-1+).

The budget is the latest incremental step toward consolidating the government's fiscal settings after four years of deficits associated with the recession-related fiscal shock and the sizeable costs stemming from the Canterbury earthquakes.

The budget foresees an operating deficit of NZ$8.4 billion (4.1% of GDP) in fiscal 2012 (ending June 30, 2012), on an accrual basis, excluding investment gains and losses, after allowing for new spending on health, education, science programs and welfare benefits reform. It expects further deficits of NZ$7.9 billion (3.6% of GDP) in fiscal 2013 and NZ$2.0 billion (0.9% of GDP) in fiscal 2014. The budget matches our previous expectation of the Crown's fiscal balance returning to a small surplus of NZ$197 million (0.1% of GDP) in fiscal 2015, with larger surpluses in 2016 and 2017 (for more information, please see the full analysis "New Zealand," published Sept. 29, 2011, on RatingsDirect on the Global Credit Portal). We believe this fiscal strategy will continue to be supported by strong bipartisan political and community backing for conservative public finances, as well as stable political consensus on monetary and exchange-rate policies.

The 2012 deficit is smaller than the NZ$10.8 billion (5.1% of GDP) foreshadowed in the pre-election economic and fiscal update in October 2011 due to the deferral of some expenditure into the 2013 year.

“The fiscal outlook faces a number of challenges, including renewed uncertainties surrounding trading partner growth and the outlook for agricultural commodity prices, which may further pressure revenues and hamper the government's efforts to stabilize its fiscal position," said Standard & Poor's credit analyst Kyran Curry.

The government now expects additional borrowings to fund expenditure programs and the cost of the earthquakes to result in gross Crown debt peaking at about 38.5% of GDP in 2012 before trending lower in line with the fiscal deficit.

Our ratings on New Zealand reflect the country's fiscal and monetary policy flexibility, economic resilience, public policy stability, and its sound financial sector. These strengths are moderated by New Zealand's very high external imbalances, which are accompanied by high, albeit falling, household and agriculture sector debt, dependence on commodity income, and emerging fiscal pressures associated with its aging population.

The stable outlook reflects our current expectation that the government will continue to consolidate public finances against the risks associated with the country's high private-sector external debt. The strength in government finances and the sound credit profile of New Zealand's major banks, which account for the majority of the country's external debt, are important mitigating factors to these risks.

We could lower our ratings if New Zealand's external position continues to deteriorate as its economy strengthens. Rising public savings will be an important component to keep the country's current account deficit in check. On the other hand, upward pressure on the ratings could emerge if sustained current account surpluses, led by stronger export performance and higher public savings, markedly reduced external debt.

In brief, expect further downgrades as our current account deficit continues to worsen (as per Treasury forecasts).

"The excise hikes are expected to bring in NZ$528 million over four years".
That's only if all smokers continue to smoke.  Yet, aren't excise tax rises supposed to encourage them to quit? #faustianpact

I would be interested in the details of their projections, as projections in the past have proven to be wrong. Really they should have hiked up the tax by a lot more in one go, but that would definately afect people cutting back, as many people wouldn't be able to afford them. In the long run it helps NZ by not having peop[le smoking as it cuts down health costs in the future.

I don't particularly wish to defend the horrible weed, tobacco, but my understanding is that smokers actually cost the government considerably less as they age than non smokers. Smokers die earlier, quite often of rapid acting diseases- heart attacks and lung cancer- so the net health spending on them is no greater than anyone else; while pension costs are considerably reduced. So, I'm happy enough the taxes are increased, but we shouldn't fool ourselves it saves government money over time; and at least be aware that it is a grab from the poor, so a very regressive tax.

Stop fiddling with your knobs and levers  Wild Bill : Just scrap the seriously dopey WFF ( the " middle class welfare " , as you & Jelly Kid called it ) ...... and save $ 3 billion each & every year ...

True but so many middle class families rely on WFF to make ends meet because of how unbalanced our economy is by house prices versus incomes. But house prices and rents are partly supported by WFF. Catch 22 thus the large deficit to sustain both. Something has to give and whether its WFF or house prices first there will be a whole lot of pain.

WFF was invented by Michael Cullen , to beat Don Brash & the Nats in the 2005 election .....
.... how did families survive in NZ for the 150 years  prior to 2005 , then ?

they got better wages. WFF allows employers to pay below cost of living wages.
 They should dump the acommodation allowance, that would bring houses prices into line with incomes fairly quickly.

Absolutely.  And in dumping the accommodation alllowance - let those on the benefits share their accommodation with whomever they want without such co-habitation affecting their basic benefit.  That way getting another adult to share in the accommodation costs should mean there is no corresponding hardship.  Indeed the current disincentives to 'pool' benefits through accommodation sharing is costing the taxpayer dearly in relation to not only this add-on support payment but also in relation to compliance and enforcement costs.

i hated WFF and still do.  Like Sky TV, you know its unaffordable but its too hard to give it up.

Agree it was a bribe but how much has the cost of living and especially house prices 2005-2008 increased since then? Far more than compensated by the average wage. Ironically the extra money from WFF probably contributed to  house price inflation but how do you reverse it without massive hardship?

....... WFF was dreamt up to win votes , to cleave a section of the electorate to vote for NZ Labour in 2005 , and to pull them away from National ... ......
What is your definition of a " bribe " ?

Brash started the game with a tax cut bribe there was no sign he knew NZ could afford....Cullen extended WFF to counter that once it became clear there was the $ to do it.
In terms of positive effect on the spending of an economy giving to to the middle and even lower earners seems to be the the best way to stimualte the tax breaks to the rich actually seems counter-productive if the present mess is anything to go by.

Its simple relativities, naturally prices went up with WFF, end result those that were actually working to get ahead above this level were dragged down to the same material level of those getting the benefit. A great disincentive and key reason more skilled people went to Australia.  

Mate you're a bit naive if you think that.  I live in Australia, and the tax system is much more progressive, they hand out more money than WFF.  They have a much higher top tax rate and a lot of tax-free income at the bottom end.  Their equivalent WFF middle-class welfare goes all the way up to household income of $150k.  Yet they have higher employment, higher incomes and less income inequality.  Income-wise I do ok, but Im not much better off than what I would be in NZ with much lower tax-rates at my level, its actually those at the bottom who do much better over here.  "We don't want people to have more money cause prices will go up and they will be no better off", come out of your dream-world, I bet you didn't say that when they cut the top tax-rate.

No mate, actually very true, especially at the time of its introduction, made it stategic to move a business at the time to Australia to to avoid losing key employees. The only other option would have been new staff and pay them less and use it as a wage subsidy. In a regulated industry you can't do that without certification of staff a given... If you have time for this site.... do yourself a favour and learn the economics of relativities. I have made more money out of that than anything. Your answer misses what i'm saying.

I understand what you're saying about relativities; the reality is very few people get digruntled enough to leave a country because less skilled people have the same disposable cash.  The relativity between NZ pay and AU pay is what drove the exodus, that and the job opportunities and better weather.  If we are talking relativities, the hand-outs to working people are higher over here than in NZ yet we never saw an exodus of Aussies to NZ, theres actually very few who move to NZ.

Not the case the stats and the consulting I have been involved in makes this clear. In a certain age group and if cost of living moves against their aspirations they do move.Not because less skilled people had more purchasing power..just that more people did and as a result their purchasing power decreased in relative terms. And given the number of businesses I have consulted on moving overseas it has been a key factor.

I think we actually agree on standard of living being the reason for moving; where we disagree is the impact WFF has had on that.  WFF was so broad brush that the people you are talking about are only a few when actually a lot of those who moved are those who benefited from WFF.  I think you will find if you have a look at the stats net migration to Australia had been increasing from 2003 until the recession in 2008.  When WFF was introduced in 2005 there was a noticable flattening in that trend (for only a year).  The root cause goes much deeper than WFF and the stats don't correlate any increasing trend with WFF.

ok suspect net migration figures are not accurate as a consequence of not clear declaration by NZs moving to Australia for I would not entirely hang my hat on that... and yes it was other contributing factors as well, naturally, also the lag effect noted which fits in with the cases I was involved with.
The main contributing factors from  independent commissioned research over the period I have seen do include WFF and it makes sense from what I have seen in independent cases.
The group above did get squeezed and the numbers were substantial. Is it the whole story why people move to Australia..well hell no. Not the point of my orginal post.

No mate, actually very true, especially at the time of its introduction, made it stategic to move a business at the time to Australia to to avoid losing key employees. The only other option would have been new staff and pay them less and use it as a wage subsidy. In a regulated industry you can't do that without certification of staff a given... If you have time for this site.... do yourself a favour and learn the economics of relativities. I have made more money out of that than anything. Your answer misses what i'm saying.

Could be a fly in the Livestock tax. My ewes have dropped from $230 to $110. Cattle will probably weaken but by no where near as much. Dairy cows will fall from ?? $2200 to 1500 as a guess, could be more. Hell Im about to claim some of my livesstock losses aginst my tax not pay more tax. These guys are a couple of years too late. And who was the biggest abuser of the livestock tax, none other than Landcorp.  I'd take the $180 mill off, you aint going to get it.
 My next question would be 'do I have to pay the gst back that I claimed of my holiday home as i purchased it as a business ?
 Just asking because I claimed the gst back and used it as the deposit.

Yeah they're gonna collect a whole lot lsss tax from us as well next year as we're drying out the initial tobacco crop now!   :-)

Kate, ive a mate doing some painting and he was just saying the same thing, time to grow his own. Lets face it there are some impressive lower income growers of herbs, many may switch to tabacco.  

you can grow tobacco here legally/easily?  in the UK I dont think you can without all sorts of excise hassles...

I read somewhere a prediction regarding the obesity epidemic that by 2030 we will be performing more amputations in NZ than hip replacements.


... meebee citizens should have a twice yearly WOF as their cars do ! ...
Down to the doctor's every 6 months for a BMI , all the scans , blood pressure , and a litre of 10W/40 shoved up the big end ....

As far as I'm aware, you can freely buy and sell the seeds.  You are allowed to plant and grow them.  Regarding the tobacco plant you are not allowed to sell or even give it away.  The rules are even stricter than home-kill meat like rabbits.  That's my understanding anyway.
The seeds are cheap to buy and incredibly small!  When your plants mature their seed pods produce copius amounts of seed.  Mine seem to be at that stage now.  They're quite hardy (we're in Christchurch), but the frosts are getting to them now.  Still, have already lots of huge leaves drying.  Can't wait to try making cigars - have watched a few YouTube vids.
Thought I'd give it a try since it's still legal for now.

Martin, the locals around here have won the marijuana battle, I dont know whether we will have helicopters looking for Tabacco plants but with the tax that high it may be economic.
  I would have thought some sort of club would get around a lot of the problems, shared ownership, a co-op approach, the next Fonterra perhaps.    You will need a big set of thighs to roll those cigars, let me know if you any problems and I can put you in touch with some big mamma's.  Could be a great way to meet women ;-)

Boy oh boy, lets cut the tax credits for the people that actually work but earn very little!  Good work Bill E, no one will notice!
So a single self employed person who worked damn hard all year but because of the recession made next to nothing now has to pay up to $728 PA more in tax! (Note that's increased tax to pay, not a reduction in any handout).  I remember being in that situation in my early twenties, working hard (self employed) but not making any real money! 
Or the hard working fulltime workers that are on low incomes but need to pay for a housekeeper or fulltime childcare!
But don't worry take $100m+ off them, that'll fix the economy!

The words "Clueless" and "Idiots" come to mind.
I wonder how much input Treasury had on this budget?

They definitely have it in for them at the bottom of the heap. What about the huge number of people having to work more than one low paying job to make ends meet. Isn't it way way past time the secondary tax rules were looked at so that they can actually take home their proper pay, they can't afford to be waiting till end of the year to get it back, they need it NOW!
When will someone look at income splitting for taxation purposes
WTF the extra taxation for self employed's. I missed that one, which bit can I find it in
Then there are the paperboys and girls of the country. Gee, I hope he sleeps easy at night knowing that proportionately, those kids have probably lost the most. On second thoughts, I hope it sees him tossing and turning till it drives him crazy

Whats wrong with cash?

...... quite alot actually .... he died !
R.I.P. Johnny Cash , " the man in black ".

but Charles Ash is still kicking.

Nicely put. Over to you GBH.

All the usual suspects, but where's PDK?
- no Jeremiad about Energy
- no pointed suggestions about all the books one has obviously not read, or read but not well enough
- no exhaltation of the Subsistence Economy
- no helpful hints about how ter survive the Coming Apocalypse (caused, natcherally,  by Inadequate Budgeting)
Come Back, PDK, all is 'Forgiven'  (With apologies to Clint E)

So Waymad still can't handle math, physics and reality?
I've been busy being a parent (the Prodigal has returned for a short stay) and helping some folk with a battery-to-inverter-to-a-freezer. Am about to drop down to the local school, and mentor (they design and build, I just facilitate and keep an eye on) the local kids building a solar dehydrator.
You may not accept that growth within a finite system is impossible long-term, but these 10/11/12 year-olds do. And no, I didn't teach them. And no, I don't think they blame you and me.

Dear Teens,
Once upon a time there was a important idea that there should be No Taxation Without Representation. But it is dead. Gone. Buried. The lesson you know need to learn is to be born to rich parents that can structure their, and your, affairs to avoid tax. This is more like No Taxation Because Of Representation.

Here's what Moody's says about the Budget:
Moody's Says NZ Budget Surplus Target Compatible with Rating

New York, May 24, 2012 -- Moody's Investors Service says that the deficit
and debt trajectories shown in the New Zealand budget presented on May 24
are supportive of the government's Aaa rating. Gross government debt, which
more than doubled during the three years through June 2011, is forecast to
peak at the end of the current fiscal year on June 30 at 38.5% of GDP before
beginning to decline.
A broader measure of general government debt is
estimated by the OECD to be higher, at more than 40% of GDP, but even at
this level, the government's debt remains slightly below the median for
Aaa-rated sovereigns. Although the peak level of debt as a percentage of GDP
is somewhat higher than forecast before last November's elections, this is
largely due to downward GDP revisions, as the estimated deficit in the 2012
year is now lower relative to the earlier forecast.

Moody's notes that the government had successfully run operating surpluses
since the turn of the century, resulting in declining debt ratios until the
2009 fiscal year. The steep increase in debt since that time was caused by
several one-time events, notably a recession followed by major earthquakes
in the Christchurch region. Much of the earthquake cost was accounted for
during the 2010-11 fiscal year, when the operating deficit reached 9.2% of
GDP. This deficit is estimated to have fallen to 4.1% of GDP in the current
fiscal year, and the government expects it will continue to decline in the
coming year before returning to a small surplus in 2014-15.

The economic projections underlying the budget forecasts include average
real GDP growth of 3.0% during the coming four years. This is slightly below
the 3.3% average rate recorded during the decade before the 2008-09
recession, but represents an acceleration in growth from the rate of the
past two years.
This level of growth will depend on, among other things, the
pace of earthquake reconstruction and external economic factors. The
relatively robust growth rate will support rising government revenues, while
the government forecasts an annual average rise in nominal expenditure of
only 2.6%.
Achieving the deficit reduction could prove difficult if growth
is slower than forecast, particularly in the 2013-14 fiscal year where the
government has committed to the largest decrease in the budget deficit.
Nonetheless, Moody's believes that, absent any further shocks like the
economic and seismological instability of the past few years, the overall
fiscal position of the New Zealand government will be on an improving trend
during the next several years.

I'd  just got though about four paragraphs.....deleted it, and thought , why post shit you people already know....?
 Why complain about the shortcomings of the Minister when he's the one with the loud-hailer..?
 The bullshit..! New measures to capture  trust  batch  plane  copter tax avoiders..!
The truth...!  more taxation spread over the upper lower, lower middle,middle upper, ciggarette loving peasants ........using the captured audience technique....added signage Departure Lounge That Way >>>>>>>>>
The bullshit...redirected money for science and innovation..
The truth....Technology Teachers will be dumped in their droves...
The Bullshit....We'll be back in surplus by 2015
The Truth...You'll be a Govt hanging by your fingernails by 2015
Sod this..! I'm in the chopper ,off to the batch, to get completely pissed on low excise alcohol ( cause in no way does it have any negative impact on society)...and when I wake up with the hangover I'll go over the trust documents and fix up the out doors( cause that is about as alert as I'd have to be not to get round this lot)
You know what Billy bob...? you been standing to close to Bolybib on too many occassions , I think you caught his stoopid.
Oh and Moody's happy.?...job done..!!.........................................................................dick.

Sore- loser - why not just simply an “Idiot Tax” for all ?

And here's what Fitch has to say:
Fitch Ratings-London/Hong Kong-24 May 2012: New Zealand's budget is in line with Fitch Ratings' expectations, and reflects the strong political commitment to fiscal sustainability, with new operating expenditure matched by cost savings and revenue-raising initiatives.
Fitch's current rating for the New Zealand sovereign ('AA' with a Stable Outlook) factors in a return to surplus in FY15/FY16. Our base-case scenario remains that risks posed by a slowing global economy, and possible fiscal slippage owing to reconstruction costs associated with the Canterbury earthquake, may delay the government's ability to return to surplus until then.
The government continues to target a return to fiscal surplus in 2014/15, although it now forecasts this surplus to be NZD197m (USD148m), down from the NZD370m forecast in its Budget Policy Statement in February. We believe a return to surplus by FY14/FY15, if realised, could apply positive pressure to the ratings - and potentially re-establish the public finances as a ratings strength. The lower forecast therefore has no ratings implications.
The FY12/FY13 (starting 1 July) budget, announced by Finance Minister Bill English on Thursday, provides for NZD4.4bn of new operating spending over the four-year forecast period. This spending is offset by plans to broaden the tax base and close tax loopholes. New operating allowances for future budgets remain unchanged.
The government also reaffirmed its commitment to partial privatisation of state-owned power and energy companies, and a reduction in the government's stake in Air New Zealand - the so-called "mixed ownership model". The government estimates this could generate NZD5bn-7bn to fund new capital spending, resulting in net zero capital allowances over the next five budgets, and assist efforts to build a more productive and competitive economy.
The government continues to try to shift the economy to savings, productive investment and exports, from borrowing, consumption, and fiscal spending - for example, by investing in research. If successful, this could have a positive impact on the ratings.

"The childcare and housekeeper tax credit has been superseded in recent years by other government support, such as Working for Families and 20 hours free early childhood education."
That's interesting. This is actually called the "Donations, childcare or housekeeper payments" (IR526 tax credit claim form). I am wondering what happened to the "Donations" part of it which is the main reason I have been filing it for a number of years. Surely that's got nothing to do with WFF or free ECE?!
On another topic, another good shake down here.

Sore- loser - why not just, simply an additional “Idiot Tax” on top for the rich – wasting ? ;-))
...covered of course by an “Anti Corruption & Greed Tax” for guys covering rich buddies - wasting.

"The Fire Safety Water Investment  Apparatus..(Swimming Pool)," tax-deductible: seriously? Care to share how?! I'm kidding. Well, half-kidding. But seriously?

You can (or used to be able to) get an insurance reduction if you had a swimming pool in a rural area, but I have never heard of anyone claiming it as a tax deduction.  Many years ago there were some rather 'creative' accountants.

It was a common pro rata tax deduction back in the mid-90's like having your own plane. Have not been involved with farming since so not sure if it is still applied. I think the development expenditure proivisons are less aggressive(risky) these days to write down income and tax actually payble in the rural sector.