Inland Revenue officials have warned against tax breaks for the racing industry, saying they could cost the Crown up to $40 million in lost revenue – but the Government is proceeding regardless
NZ First and its leader Winston Peters had been backed at the election by prominent racing industry figures, who demanded those bloodstock tax breaks, as well as an all-weather track and control of the NZ Racing Board.
Now one of Peters’ backers – top breeder Sir Patrick Hogan – has been ticked off by the Electoral Commission for breaking election funding rules with a pro-NZ First advertisement. “I didn’t understand the rules.” Hogan said.
It was effectively an undeclared donation. When you spend thousands of dollars running an advertisement urging people to vote for a party, that is hugely beneficial to the party. It is why Hogan should have got authorisation for the ads, so they could be declared.
This week’s slap on the hand came the same day that Peters stepped up to the office of acting Prime Minister. As Racing Minister, Peters last month announced tax deductions for the buyers of “good looking” horses. It was notable as the only tax cut in the Government’s first Budget.
Humans get nothing unless they own a good looking horse.
Details of Peters’ new policy are vague. But a strikingly similar proposal was advanced by the Racing Board last year. Officials cautioned against it because the deductions could be claimed even if a breeding business never eventuated. The Racing Board believed the policy would cost around $5 million a year.
IRD didn’t accept that figure and put the cost at around $40 million a year because it had the potential to apply to an extra 7000 horses a year.
Nurses are on strike over their wages, but the Government can afford to give 7,000 horses a tax break.
Sir Patrick said it was a “last minute decision” to place the ad. “I did it to assist in letting the industry know that at least the NZ First party had the best racing policies out there before the elections. All I was doing was saying that’s what people should consider. The last three elections they have had the best racing policies of any party. Any of the other parties don’t support racing at all.”
He refused to say if he had donated to NZ First’s election campaign.
Which suggests he did. He also donated in 2008.