Roughan on a sugar tax


Like rust, the researchers of public health keep trying to corrode our tax system. Like rust, they never sleep. They were at it again this week, holding a “fizz” conference at Auckland University in the hope of persuading political parties to put a tax on soft drinks in their platform for the coming election.

A tax that even if there was no substitution would result in an average calorie drop of 3 calories a day!

My only interest as a citizen of this country is in the integrity of our tax system. This is the thing health taxers never consider.

Thanks largely to GST we have one of the simplest, cleanest, fairest tax systems in the world. I don’t think any tax expert disputes this. The economic benefits of a broad tax net with few exemptions or arbitrary additional imposts is immense. It helps ensure investments and resources flow to activities of most value. It is undoubtedly one of the reasons we are doing so well compared to most countries today.

We are very fortunate to have a broad-based consumption tax. If it hadn’t been done in the first flush of economic reform we might have faced the same ordeal as Australia when their reformers got around to it. GST was endlessly contentious over there and they ended up with a ragged GST compared to ours.

Yep we have an excellent GST system. But people keep trying to complicate it such as when Labour demanded no GST on fresh fruit and vegetables, feminists demand tampons be exempt etc etc.

They want to use the tax system to send virtue signals.

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