Keep­ing vot­ers in the dark

Labour’s ex­perts, not vot­ers, will de­cide the ex­tent to which we will be taxed.

Herald on Sunday - - EDITORIAL - Rod­ney Hide rod­ney.hide@hos.co.nz

Starter for 10 — What’s Labour’s tax pol­icy? Don’t know? Don’t feel bad — nei­ther does Labour. Or it is just not telling.

It has said it will tax wa­ter. But Labour isn’t call­ing it a tax — it’s call­ing it a “roy­alty”.

The roy­alty will ap­ply to com­mer­cial con­sump­tion, the rate will be “pro­por­tion­ate and fair” and will be set af­ter con­sul­ta­tion post-elec­tion.

We don’t know what the price of a cab­bage, or any­thing else, will be be­cause we don’t know the rate and ex­actly what the roy­alty is to ap­ply to.

What is and isn’t “com­mer­cial con­sump­tion” also isn’t clear.

Coca-Cola would be ex­empt but a mum and dad or­ganic ap­ple farm would be hit.

An arable farmer has cal­cu­lated a tax at two cents per 1000 litres would take half his in­come.

That’s a big tax — I mean roy­alty. Cap­i­tal gains tax (CGT)?

Don’t know.

It’s on the ta­ble.

It’s to be de­cided af­ter the elec­tion fol­low­ing the ad­vice of a tax work­ing group.

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern has said the CGT won’t be ap­plied to the fam­ily home but “beyond that, I am leav­ing it to a group of ex­perts to work through what we need to do more broadly when it comes to our tax­a­tion in New Zealand”.

It’s not some­thing we will get to vote on.

“I made a call that if I was in Gov­ern­ment and pre­sented with a tax work­ing group pa­per that sug­gested these are the things you need to do to be able to tackle the hous­ing cri­sis and in­equal­ity in your tax sys­tem, to then sit on that for one, maybe two years with­out do­ing any­thing didn’t feel right to me.”

Labour’s ex­perts, not vot­ers, will de­cide the ex­tent to which we will be taxed.

Na­tional’s at­tack ad has Labour’s hous­ing spokesman Phil Twyford say­ing that a land value tax and an as­set and wealth tax will also be on the ta­ble.

So we could be up for a tax shake up — but that pol­icy won’t be de­cided by vot­ers, nor even our elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives, but by un­elected ex­perts.

The con­cept of “no-tax­a­tion-with­out-rep­re­sen­ta­tion” means noth­ing to Labour.

It’s un­der­stand­able that tax de­tail is not worked out in op­po­si­tion.

But the broad prin­ci­ples such as what will be taxed, the rate and roughly what is to be raised should be es­tab­lished. Labour have had nine years to do so.

It stretches cred­i­bil­ity to sug­gest the Labour Party is so in­ca­pable that in nine years it hasn’t been able to de­ter­mine the very ba­sics of what it’s promis­ing.

But then tax has al­ways been Labour’s Achilles heel.

It’s a smart move to neu­tralise any con­cerns by post­pon­ing the pol­icy un­til af­ter the elec­tion.

So don’t feel bad you didn’t know Labour’s tax pol­icy — you’re not meant to.

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