By John Pagani*
John Armstrong notes National is struggling to find flaws in Labour's capital gains tax:
Yesterday was thus the first opportunity in Parliament for National to pick holes in Labour's tax package. It didn't happen - despite National having had plenty of time to analyse it and find fresh fault.
Here's why National's failure to attack yesterday matters: It is proof the policy is a net winner for Labour.
National has heavily polled and focus-grouped it by now - if the idea were a loser they would have been all over it. Instead they're trying hard to ignore it.
The National line is to call it 'big spending'. But it's a tax switch. If they want to call it a big bad new tax and grab, then they have to distinguish it from their own GST increase. They can't - that was about paying down debt and switching from income tax (even if income tax cuts were weighted to the top).
Bill English claims the problem with Labour's capital gains tax is that there are 'holes' in it that undermine its comprehensiveness. The trouble with his line is that the biggest hole in the tax system is the absence of a capital gains tax. It's like putting a large mesh net in the water and complaining that small fish can still swim through.
National's refusal to attack yesterday is a watershed moment in New Zealand politics that means we will one day have a capital gains tax.
Now we know that the tax is no longer toxic. Expert reception emphasised that some form of capital gains tax is part of a coherent and efficient tax system.
How long do you think a Finance Minister can keep at bay pressure for a tax change that is not unpopular and is needed to make the tax system work properly? Not long.
Sooner or later, a capital gains tax is coming. As of yesterday, we can be sure of that.