Alex's election diary: Winston eyes savings tax inflation indexation, promises tax cuts (but doesn't say by how much); Labour to can holiday highway for Auckland rail

Alex's election diary: Winston eyes savings tax inflation indexation, promises tax cuts (but doesn't say by how much); Labour to can holiday highway for Auckland rail

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters launched his election campaign yesterday, promising lower taxes for all but the rich, although he didn't say by how much he'd like to reduce tax rates except for returning GST to 12.5%.

Peters also wants to tackle the issue of savings taxes - saying inflation ate into returns from term deposits, and then savers were taxed at their marginal rates on top of that, including the 'inflation component'.

Indexation for inflation was one of the ideas touted by the Savings Working Group in January for improving New Zealand's savings rates by making bank deposits more attractive to investors.

National is still looking at the idea, and says work on this was pushed back by the Christchurch earthquakes. See article: Government still eyeing savings tax break, but complexities and poor IRD systems stand in the way. Interest.co.nz understands Labour has no plans currently to look at indexation, although one MP said it could be something to be tackled in a second term, and once the books were back in surplus.

On the other side of the ledger, property investors who write off mortgage interest payments against their income for tax purposes would be hit by indexation, as they would only be able to write off the 'real' payment (once the interest rate is adjusted for inflation), rather than the nominal payment.

It seems Peters' only hope of returning to Parliament is through NZ First reaching the 5% threshold in the November 26 election, and only then if Labour is able to form a government, as PM John Key has ruled out working with him.

Yesterday Peters said that on November 26 New Zealand First wanted to double the 95,000 votes it received in the 2008 election, in which it received just over 4% of the general vote.

Encouragingly for Peters, the latest iPredict election snapshot last week showed Labour's Phil Goff could form a government with the Greens, Maori Party, New Zealand First (if it reached 5%), and the Mana Party (although Goff has ruled out working with Mana's Hone Harawira).

Even without Mana, Labour would be close to be able to form a government as the poll gap between it and National narrows.

Here's Peters yesterday:

We stand for a fair tax system, where everyone pays a fair share.

So we are going to rewrite and simplify NZ’s mangle of tax laws so that they are understandable, unavoidable, and fair.  Everyone will pay their fair taxes. That means:

·        Less personal tax

·        Less company tax

·        Less GST at 12.5 not 15%

·        Removing double tax on savings

·        Removing GST on rates

·        Removing secondary tax

Over 90% will be better off.

It is not fair for a young person, with two jobs, stacking supermarket shelves all night to pay secondary tax while a very rich person with millions pays no tax.

It’s not fair that you pay tax on savings interest less than the inflation rate and then get slammed with tax on top of that. So inflation above 4%, interest less than 4% on which you pay 33% tax.  Are you going forward or back?

GST on rates is a tax on a tax, that’s intellectual fraud, and we’re going to abolish it.

The multi-millionaires must pay their share.  Warren Buffet and Sam Morgan, (Trade Me), believe that and so do we.

Compare Peters' comments above to the tax polices of parties currently in Parliament in our party policy tax section here.

'Travel around the CBD faster rather than to the beach faster'

Meanwhile, Labour announced it would can the Puhoi to Wellsford 'holiday highway' in order to put NZ$1.2 billion toward an Auckland inner city rail link, if the Auckland City Council promised to pay the other NZ$1.2 billion required for the project.

“National’s spending of NZ$1.7 billion on a new gold-plated highway is fiscally irresponsible in these tough times," Phil Goff told supporters in Auckland.

“Labour supports the so-called ‘Operation Lifesaver’ improvements to the existing Puhoi to Wellsford road rather than the gold-plated option," he said.

“This alternative, which includes a Warkworth bypass, would fix the crash black spots and traffic bottlenecks at a cost of NZ$320 million, delivering most of the benefits more quickly and cheaply than building an entire new highway. The combined costs of ‘Operation Lifesaver’ and our contribution to the Auckland Rail Loop comes to NZ$1.6 billion, less than the NZ$1.7 billion Steven Joyce has already budgeted for the ‘holiday highway’.”

Compare Labour's transport policy to other parties in Parliament in our party policy transport section here.

'It will increase Labour's borrowing'

Transport Minister Stephen Joyce attacked Labour's transport announcement, saying the policy would increase the government's borrowing requirement over the next four years, a claim Labour transport spokesman Shane Jones refuted.

"Construction funding for the upgrade of State Highway One north of Auckland is currently not scheduled to start until 2014/15 and construction would extend for eight years after that," Joyce said in a statement.

"For Labour to meet anything like the timetable that Auckland Mayor Len Brown is has set for the Auckland rail loop, Labour will need to borrow NZ$530 million over the next four years. That takes their extra borrowing to a new grand total of NZ$17.19 billion over the next four years, and we will update the Owe our Future website accordingly," Joyce said.

But Labour's Jones said Joyce's claim was wrong.

“Labour plans to fund half the rail link by cancelling National’s holiday highway north of Puhoi, but today Mr Joyce claimed that because construction funding for the highway is not scheduled to start until 2014/15, and construction will take eight years, that Labour will have to borrow NZ$530 million over four years to meet Auckland’s rail timetable," Jones said in a statement.

“That’s absolute nonsense, and Mr Joyce knows it,” Jones said.

“The truth is that the holiday highway money has not been allocated to specific years. It’s just pencilled in to come from the National Land Transport Fund at some point," he said.

“Labour may take money from that fund for the rail loop in different years than National would have done for the holiday highway, but the fact is that the timing of on-going transport projects drawing from the fund can be adjusted so that funding for the rail loop stays within the pool of money currently available in the fund." 

See all party policies in our policy section here.

See all of our Election 2011 coverage here.

(Updates with statements from Joyce and Jones, links to policy sections)

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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Tax free on inflation indexed component of interest has meritt.  I would suggest balancing it with the corollary of non tax deductability for the inflation indexed component of interest paid by a company or non owner occupied property.  This would lower the tax income lost to Govt and reduce the tendency for investors to speculate and farm inflation.

I would suggest we stop borrowing money to fund the structural deficit before you start reducing revenues.  Or else just crash the system already, get physical.

when are politicians going to realise that nobody wants to travel on trains in this country.

we are sick of our taxes propping up a rail system that doesn't deliver.Population to small,rail gauge to small and auckland is to far spread out.

Ah the joys of the command economy.

Never mind nobody wants it, doesn't matter how much money it losses because they just take some more.  Wealth is just a big cake that falls like rain from the heavens and all that matters is arguing about how much cake each lobby group gets.

History shows this can go on for decades, even generations, until the whole economy grinds to a halt as productive people give up trying or emmigrate.

According to Transit's study - the railway loop will only take 1400 cars out of 30,000 going into the city each day.  For that, 2.5bil dollars is a huge amount of money to be wasted and I certainly won't be happy to pay thru' my tax and rates.  I wish Len Brown will take the refrerendum seriously and stop spending other people money..

Vote for Winnie and you'll be in the pooh!

Believe Winston has expressed some sensible ways to encourage savings,and see a balancing of tax burden.Unlike"Chairmoa "don`t believe Winston is more likely than JK to lead us to the effluent pit,less so,as his work experience has been diverse,and not of gambling as JK`s was.

Would like to see a return to encouragement within the tax system for those who save,carry health insurance,and take out life assurance etc,oldies but goldies don`t you think?

Perhaps I should re-phrase my comment as  "Vote for Winnie and I'll be in the pooh".  Because he'll tell me to go back to my country!

Having had a look at the $2.5B estimate summary for the rail loop I am highly suspicious that this could be build for far less than the unacountable city bureaucrats have estimated.  Pity is that if given the OK, they will spend (waste) the extra money.

Len loves trains and he knows he will get his way eventually when Labour get a crack at govt in 2014 ,  if the IMF havent put NZ in receivership before then.  While  we are on Think Big ideas my personal favourite is a bridge over Cook Strait , with fantastic improvement in inter-island transit times

Updated with exchange between natoinal's Stephen Joyce, and labour's Shane Jones.

looks like some sore losers up  Hawkes Bay , surely not those nice Labour peaple?

National's Craig Foss says he's fed up with the constant vandalism of his election billboards.

Hawke's Bay Police are investigating recent attacks which have seen the Tukituki MP's hoardings slashed with knives, burnt to the ground and painted over.

Mr Foss says this year has been much worse than any other.

"To see people just brutally attack them like they have, you do wonder if it's a concerted effort or something, I don't know, but I haven't seen it this bad in any of the elections I've been involved in."

all aboard the gravy train.next stop wellington and access to the public purse.