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Reaction pours in to the National Party tax plan, much of it critical but some of it in support

Public Policy / news
Reaction pours in to the National Party tax plan, much of it critical but some of it in support
Tax mess

Good in parts, bad in others, is the common theme of commentary on the National Party's long awaited tax plan. 

But most commentators disagree on which parts are good and which parts are bad.  

National says its plan will make paying their way easier for lower and middle income New Zealanders.

For example a family with children, with household income of $120,000 would be up to $250 a fortnight better off.  An average child-free household would be up to $100 a fortnight better off.

These and other changes would be achieved by shifting income tax brackets to compensate for inflation, expanding tax credits for modest income earners, changing Working for Families and other things.   

These pledges would be paid for by reducing spending on back-office state bureaucracy, taxing foreign house buyers 15% on homes worth more that $2 million, and ending depreciation on commercial buildings.   

Another earner would come from shifting income from Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) payments away from future decarbonisation projects to pay for the proposed tax changes.

The campaigning groups, Tax Justice Aotearoa and Better Taxes for a Better Future, think some aspects of the changes are fair. 

But their chairperson Glenn Barclay thinks they fiddle around the edge of the problem when they could be dealing with the main issue.

"They don't go to the deep problem of not having enough revenue to tackle the serious problems that we are facing as a society. 

"There is some sense behind the shifting of tax brackets and that will deliver some relief for middle income New Zealanders.

"But if you do something like that, it needs to be compensated with some transformational taxes such as a wealth tax or a capital gains tax."

Barclay adds he is concerned about pushing the bright line test on rental property sales back to two years because that is taking New Zealand further away from a capital gains tax. 

The Taxpayers' Union says the proposed tax bracket changes are a good start.  

But its national campaigns manager Callum Purves says they need to go further.

"We think the changes lack ambition," says Purves.   

He adds the changes to tax brackets should be properly indexed to inflation. 

"On my reading, the party is only adjusting for indexation over the past two years, which is a watering down of their previous commitment of indexing back to 2017 when they were last in office."

The problem Purves is referring to is so-called bracket creep, under which people move into higher tax brackets because of inflation but do not become wealthier in real terms.  

Purves says the Taxpayers' Union would like continuous indexation of tax backets every year.

He adds the decision to create a carbon dividend is a good thing, to avoid "corporate welfare" made to profitable businesses via the Government Investment in Decarbonising Industry (GIDI) fund.

He adds the foreign buyer tax on houses is better than the current government's complete ban on foreign purchases, but if the rest of the law was sorted out, then there there would be no issue with foreign buyers of property.

The Council of Trade Unions (CTU) has problems with the whole thrust of the proposals. But its economist, Craig Renney, has also found faults in the National Party's own arithmetic. 

"There are some things in here that raise eyebrows," he says, and he refers to the 15% tax on foreign buyers of expensive homes, which assumes earnings of $740 million a year for the Government. 

"The assumptions seem to be a bit heroic to say the least," Renney says. 

Another problem is the proposed tax on overseas gambling, which National says will bring in $179 million a year.

"What foreign casinos would voluntarily report to the IRD about their earnings," he asks. 

"If you are going to geo-block them, fine, but has anyone heard of a VPN?"

Renney adds there is an extra problem for National in terms of its plans to restore tax deductibility on interest payments for residential rental properties. He says a lot of the figures used by National are historic and were written at a time when interest rates were lower than they are now.

"Interest rates have spiralled since, so there are questions marks over how realistic those numbers are."

Renney's point here is that National might be underestimating the fiscal impact of restoring tax deductibility on rental properties if it uses numbers from an earlier, lower-interest-rate era.

"And there will be a behavioural effect.  If I was a landlord, furiously paying off my mortgage in order to reduce my interest payments because they are not an unallowable cost, I would hold more debt (under the proposed changes), knowing that the Crown would help me pay it back."

One of National's fund-raising mechanisms is to divert money from the ETS away from new projects for decarbonising industry to help pay for the proposed tax policies,  

The peak body representing relevant companies and organisations in this space is the Business Energy Council, and it declined to comment on this proposal. 

But the Major Electricity Users Group (MEUG) agreed to speak, and expressed reservations about the National Party's proposals.  

Its chairperson John Harbord says he can appreciate the argument for putting some ETS money into the hands of the public.   

"But we would want to preserve some form of Government assistance (for decarbonising industry)," he says.

"Where there is a strong case to do so, the Government could assist with projects to help bring them forward or get them over the line."

Harbord says there is a good case to be made for money from the ETS to go to households (via tax cuts), because this would allow people to decide themselves what to spend it on.   But this change should not bring an end to state assistance for decarbonising industry, and he cites the NZ Steel example as a successful case of state intervention to help lower emissions. 

Other aspects of the National Party's proposal include saving $594 million a year on cutting back-office state bureaucracy, $400 million on fewer consultants, and $590 million on the climate dividend.

Crown entities excluded from overall spending reductions affect health, education, children, prisons, police, defence, roading and others.  

These agencies are still being told to reduce wasteful bureaucratic spending, but any savings will be recycled into the frontline.

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“One of National's fund-raising mechanisms is to divert money from the ETS away from new projects for decarbonising industry to help pay for the proposed tax policies.”

The ETS shouldn’t be some slush fund for politicians.

Also changing the bright line test is nothin more than self serving for property owning National MPs.

National has no strategic vision as all and is so backward. I’m  ashamed to be a New Zealander given the incompetence of our politicians.


The two main parties deficit-wise are dumb and dumber.

Hard to decide which is which.


Agree. Neither of the major parties have a clue what is going on in middle NZ, and they dont care. Each just beating the same old drum with childish petty poilticing. An absolute disgrace.


Well, they would (all) say that wouldn't they 


Lisa Owen pointed out to nicola Willis on RNZ checkpoint , that she did not need a tax cut. Willis agreed , but then kept saying that the tax cuts targeted middle NZ . but your not middle NZ , pointed out Owens , so why is there a tax cut for higher earners. Willis went on about it targeting squeezed middle NZ. 

One listener chimed in that they were not in the squeezed middle , they were in the squashed bottom.Lol. 


For God's sake, is that what passes as an interview these days? If you want a progressive tax system where people pay more as they earn more, then the flipside is that they get the benefit of tax relief at the lower end.

People love to mistake snake for informed criticism as long as it backs up their personal beliefs. 


Maybe look in the mirror. 

did you listen to the interview?


There is great difficulty in analysing what the effects of the revenue raising measures will be on different deciles of income distribution, whereas for cuts in taxes are relatively easy to analyse in this way.

Cuts to State provision like transport subsidies for instance will evidently raise costs for those without cars.

No mention of a tax allowance of course by either main party. yet this is best way to raise living standards and increase work incentives. People are supporting minor parties because the two main ones are too boring, non-radical and timid. The system of government has become sclerotic and this is partly due to all the consultation needed to do anything (like an election is not permit eough?) Also, revenue needed for investment is not agreed upon and term of office too short to do anything. Impact of climate change on NZ disaster-proneness will be very expensive. Plus drop in revenue from China will impact revenue from dairy exports especially. That will in turn mean imports imbalance knock on impact on NZD. Parties are not being macro enough in thinking and tinkering. After the election (which looks v close to a one seat majority either way) things will be messy and another election looks likely in 2024, as Winston will be awkward, as usual


Landlords are not in the bracket of income distribution between 25-50% I would aver.

yet National wants to start subsidising them again.

Which encourages them to leverage again. Which raises house prices.

biggest redistributor of wealth upwards is housing.

That is a tax policy by stealth.

Demand deficit is not asssited by giving more to those with plenty already


Yep, to the tune of $700m per year


Sorry, are we vehemently opposed to tax policies being implemented by stealth now? 


Luxon is truly following Key, he wants to be Chairman of a bank.

I can't believe he speils what spruikers say on here. That landlords can reduce rent if they have more incentives. What will reduce rent is cheaper houses. His tax plan is pathetic, his housing plan is the true tax, and he wants affordable housing and our disposable income to burn in banks interest flames. More debt and less spending power to help common business around NZ.


this is  a policy that will tip NZ back into recession with higher house prices, interest rates not coming down anytime soon (the fed is talking raising again) so less money going into the local economy  the only good side of this for me if i was being selfish is bank profits next year will be even better so i will get better dividends


Where is the Land Value Tax on a national level?


I thought LVT was proposed by both TOP and Greens, with the latter being slightly different