Capital gains tax changes should not be 'over complicated' , says Prime Minister

2019-03-12 04:11:59

The timeline to change New Zealand's tax laws before the election may be softening, as the Labour branch of the coalition Government tries to align with a set of "non negotiables" NZ First leader Winston Peters has laid out.

The Government is yet to establish its position on the recommendations of a tax working group, which called for a wide-sweeping capital gains tax.

The confidence and supply partner, the Green Party, wants the full gamut of recommendations to be implemented. But coalition partner NZ First is juggling a long-held position of opposition to a capital gains tax and is consulting its membership.

Peters has said very little on the matter but he has railed against any measures that would swell the accountancy profession or public service numbers at Inland Revenue.

In early 2018, Finance Minister Grant Robertson laid out a timeline that indicated tax changes would be legislated within this parliamentary term, but no changes would come into force until after the 2020 election. Peters has indicated he would not be bound by this timeline.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told Stuff that was still the intended timeline "if legislation was required".

In practice, it was unlikely the Government would come to an agreement without some legislative changes. But Ardern's comments were designed to provide a clear buffer around the Government's effective position of "no position".

"We've ruled nothing in or out - we're leaving that for conversations with our confidence and supply partner and our coalition partner," she said.

"If there's a requirement for legislation, we've always said very openly that we'd look to legislate this parliamentary term. But nothing would take effect until after the parliamentary term, if indeed that is the decision that's made."

Ardern agreed with Peters' statement that the intention was not to overly complicate the tax system.

"I think these are just general aspirations. Of course we want to make sure there's simplicity in our system, and of course we want to make sure that we don't see some of those perverse incentives that might lead to an accountants boom.

"Again, I think he's just acknowledging of course that the full spectrum is on the table for discussion - that's something we've maintained this entire process. It's out there now for everyone to see what's being recommended."

The Government was still officially working to an April deadline to produce a consensus approach to tax reform, however NZ First is still taking time to "consult" with its wider membership and the public.

"If legislation is introduced, it's really important to make it clear that people would have that chance to have a vote in between the time any vote would take effect," said Ardern.

"That really is a consequence of the last election and the debate that surrounded that - people just saying 'we want to know what changes you would make' and so that's a principle that were sticking to. We've set down our timelines and we're undertaking work that needs to be done to meet them."

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