Prime Minister John Key says a capital gains tax is one of the “third rails” of politics in New Zealand – and anyone who touches it will, in political terms, be killed instantly.
This week Labour touched that rail and received only an invigorating tingle rather than the shock of their lives.
That may be a premature call.
The debate is welcome, but Labour could have done much better and should be trumpeting how such a tax would shift investment into more productive export industries and create higher-wage jobs to keep young New Zealanders here.
Instead, it has watered down that message by proposing a capital gains tax that is full of exemptions and then used the revenues to shuffle tax from the very rich to the poorest. …
The exemptions for the family home, for residences in family trusts, for Maori land, collectibles and gambling winnings will be welcomed with open arms by budding tax accountants and lawyers.
These will be high-paid jobs, but they’re not the sort we want.
The exemption for gambling is interesting. If you take a chance by investing in the (initially) unproven company Xero, and make a capital gain you’ll be taxed on it. But if you take a chance at a casino and win the same amount of money, you’re exempt from tax.
A land tax would have been much more efficient, simple and lucrative.
The idea put forward to the Tax Working Group in late 2009 by Motu economist Arthur Grimes for a 0.5 per cent land tax with a $50,000 a hectare tax-free threshold and the ability to defer payment until sale would have raised about $2 billion a year.
I support a land tax, so long as income tax rates are cut to compensate.