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Budget 2013: petrol taxes

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National is not going to be raising GST. National wants to cut taxes not raise taxes.” – So saith Dear Leader at a 2008 press conference. (see: Key ‘no GST rise’ video emerges)

Sure enough, in April 2009 and October 2010, National cut taxes.

As Key said in 2009,

“…The tax cuts we have delivered today will inject an extra $1 billion into the economy over the coming year, thereby helping to stimulate the economy during this recession. More important, over the longer term these tax cuts will reward hard work and help to encourage people to invest in their own skills, in order to earn and keep more money.”

Source: NZ Parliament -Tax Cuts—Implementation

Bill English and Peter Dunne issued a joint statement in 2010, which said, in part,

“Lower personal tax rates reward effort and give people an increased incentive to up-skill, develop new products and services, and get ahead under their own steam. This has strong benefits for the economy…

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… A person on the average annual wage of about $50,000 will get a weekly income tax cut of about $29 a week. Even after the increase in GST is taken into account they are more than $15 a week better off if they are paying an average rent or mortgage.”

Source: Beehive.govt.nz – Fact sheet – Personal tax cuts

Except… it was jiggery-pokery, and with a sleight-of-hand trick, National recouped much of the tax cuts by raising taxes elsewhere.

2010

– GST was raised from 12.5% to 15% – despite Key promising in 2008 that it would not be increased. (see: Key denies ‘flip flop’ over GST increase)

– tax increases for property investors (see: BUDGET RELEASE: Property tax changes increase fairness)

2011

– Cuts to Working for Families and increase in Kiwisaver payments (see: Budget 2011: Battlers asked to give back)

– Tax exemption removed for employer contributions and halving of  member tax credit (see: Experts stunned by KiwiSaver tax grab)

2012

– Children earning less than $2,340 per year to be taxed. (see: Young workers out of pocket)

– National announces Road User Charges to increase (see: Petrol, road charges hikes are ‘bad news‘)

– Student loan repayment rate increased to 12% (see: Budget 2012: The main points)

– Prescription items increased from $3 to $5 each (see: Budget 2012: The main points)

– Holiday home tax deductions cut (see: Budget 2012: The main points)

– Three tax credits dumped (see: Budget 2012: The main points)

2013

– 3 cents per litre increase in the price of petrol (see: Govt to hike petrol taxes and road user charges 9 cents over three years)

2014

– 3 cents per litre increase in the price of petrol

2015

– 3 cents per litre increase in the price of petrol

 

The up-shot?

  1. National pretends to be the Party of low taxes. It is not.
  2. National won an election in 2008 on promises of low taxation. It lied.
  3. National’s tax cuts benefit the top 1% whilst increases in other covert-taxation has less impact on them. This is true.

Moral of this story #1;

When National promises tax cuts, ask yourself,

  • Who pays?
  • What other taxes will be quietly  increased?
  • Who really benefits?

Moral of this story #2;

When Labour, The Greens, and Mana promise a new tax – eg; Capital Gains Tax – at least you know what you’re voting for.

Moral of this story #3;

On a scale of 1 to 10 – one being the most world-wise and street wise person on the planet, and 10 being that you hold shares in the Wellington Harbour Bridge – how gullible are National voters?

Just something to remember next time you’re filling up your car.

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Young workers out of pocket

Acknowledgment: Fairfax Media – Young workers out of pocket

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Budget 2013: How NOT to deal with Student loan defaulters

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barbed_wire_fence_by_archaeopteryx_stocks1

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1. Prelude

In my parent’s home nation in Eastern Europe, during the era of the Soviet Bloc, the citizens of Poland, East Germany, Hungary, Czechoslovalia, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Romania, and Albania were denied the right to travel freely to the West. (Mainly because 90% would not have returned.)

Travel outside of the Eastern bloc was severely curtailed. Those trying to cross borders to the West, without appropriate documentation, if caught, faced lengthy prison sentences.

Such was life under authoritarian regimes that used extreme measures to control their citizens.

In 1989, those regimes fell, and freedom returned to Eastern Europe. People were permitted to travel freely without fear of hindrance or arrest.

2. Welcome to the People’s Republic of New Zealand, Inc.

In 2013, New Zealand’s National government announced plans to adopt similar extreme measures. Powers of hindrance and arrest are to be issued to our Border security. Travel will be curtailed for a few.

During Bill English’s Budget speech today (16 May), the Finance Minister made one of the most extraordinary revelations that I have ever heard from a New Zealand politician;

Introducing the ability to arrest non-compliant borrowers who are about to leave New Zealand

Making it a criminal offence to knowingly default on an overseas-based repayment obligation will allow Inland Revenue to request an arrest warrant to prevent the most non-compliant borrowers from leaving New Zealand. Similar provisions already exist under the Child Support Act. This will be included in a bill later this year.

Acknowledgment:  IRD – Budget 2013 announcements

It is extraordinary because a loan defaulter is not a matter under the Crimes Act. It is what is known as a Civil matter.

If, for example, you, the reader, default on your mortgage, rent, or hire purchase, the Lender does not involve the Police. Instead, they apply to the Courts for a remedy.

The Tenancy Tribunal and Small Claims Court are examples where litigants can take their cases before a Court, and make their claims. Police are not involved. In the Tenancy Tribunal, there aren’t even any lawyers (generally).

For National to intend issuing arrest warrants, for student loan defaulters, takes the matter of a civil contract into the realm of the Crimes Act.

One wonder if  banks, finance companies,  and landlords will eventually apply for similar powers?

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"Open up please, Mrs Jones. Your rent is two weeks in arrears!"

“Open up please, Mrs Jones. Your rent is two weeks in arrears!”

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The worst aspect – indeed, the dumbest aspect – of this new measure is that it appears no one in  National has thought through the consequences of such a harsh,  autocratic policy.

This law – if enacted – will not stop people leaving New Zealand. It will stop people returning to New Zealand.

Because the law involves ex-students with loans  who have moved overseas; who have defaulted on their loan repayments whilst overseas; return to New Zealand (perhaps for a funeral, holiday, or visit family) – and only then are arrested at an airport as they try to board a plane to fly out of the country again.

Under such circumstances; what loan-defaulting New Zealander will bother coming back to this country? Ever?

Well done, National. You have just provided a further reason (if any was really required) for expat Kiwis to remain – expat. In terms of economic policy, this wasn’t an exercise in rationality – it was an exile in perpetuity.

The message that Key and English have sent to every New Zealander, who owes money to the State, is: don’t come home. The police will  be waiting.

So not only have we lost any chance that ex-pat loan defaulters might one day return and pay back their debt – but we’ve lost their expertise and any fortune they might bring back with them.

The sheer lunacy of such an ill-conconceived policy beggars belief.

But then again, maybe not. This was the government that was so cash-strapped last year, that they raided the meagre earnings of paper boys and girls;

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'Paper boy tax' on small earnings stuns Labour

Acknowledgment: NZ Herald – Budget 2012: ‘Paper boy tax’ on small earnings stuns Labour

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This is a mean, desperate government we have, folks.

Make no mistake, they will do whatever it takes to get back into some form of  surplus by new year’s election. Because if they don’t – they are dog tucker  for sure.

Which is why I’m not holding my breath for Bill English’s “Big Announcement” in two weeks regarding the problem of hungry kids, and initiating a food-in-schools programme. Expect a massive disappointment on this matter.

Meanwhile, our Border Security will no longer be focused on searching for contraband, dangerous goods, or potential weapons being carried onboard airport. They will now be Border Guards tasked with keeping New Zealanders from travelling. Or escaping any other way…

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Our New Border Guards in New Zealand

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One wonders who will  next  be barred from travelling to and from New Zealand?

Consider also,  when we take this insane proposal and place it alongside  other laws, and proposed law-changes,

  •  the so-called Terrorism Suppression Act,
  • the Search and Surveillance Act,
  • the Crown Minerals Amendment Act which suppresses protest at sea and threatens protesters with large fines and terms of imprisonment,
  • the IRD sharing sensitive information with other government departments,
  • illegal spying by the GCSB – with no legal consequences for those in authority,
  • and instead,  extension of the surveillance powers of that same GCSB,

– we can see that our country has taken a path that we hoped, and feared, would never happen to us.

Well, it has happened and it is happening.

We are slowly but surely drifting ever closer to a police state.

3. An Open Letter to Labour, The Greens, Mana, and New Zealand First

As a citizen of this country, it is my deepest, sincerest hope that an incoming Labour-Green-Mana(-New Zealand First?)
coalition government will, upon taking office, make an urgent review of the spying powers of our “intelligence community”.

I submit that we have drifted from an open, free society, to one that is highly surveilled; copious data files kept on us;  and where police and  intelligence groups are straying far beyond their lawful mandates.

I also submit the following,

  1. We do not need the so-called “Terrorism Suppression Act” or “Search and Surveillance Act”.  The Police, with their normal powers, are quite adequate to deal with crimes.   They serve no useful purpose and instead give powers to the State which serve only as a prelude to even more Orwellian laws. It is time to take  several, big, steps back. These laws should be repealed forthwith.
  2. The Crown Minerals Amendment Act must be repealed forthwith. It is draconian legislation which serves the interests of corporations and threatens the right of New Zealand citizens to protest activity that is counter to the welfare of our nation and environment. This is a brazen attack of democracy and would be perfectly at home in a Third World dictatorship.
  3. Do not permit the IRD to share information with other government departments. There is no need to create a vast monolithic State apparatus that collects information on us and in the process, invades our privacy.  Allowing the IRD to share information with, say, the Police, will simply serve to drive certain activities further underground.
  4. Any extension of the GCSB’s surveillance powers should be undone and returned to it’s original purpose. (Or even get rid of it altogether. Precisely why are we spying for the Americans anyway?)
  5. We desperately need a more effective, well-resourced, oversight mechanism for the SIS, GCSB, and Police. Our Australian neighbours are more serious in the way they over-see their spy agencies and we need to look to them for guidance. If there is one thing that the current Prime Minister has illustrated with crystal clarity – we can no longer trust one person to hold the responsibility for these agencies. At some time in the future, we could have a worse Prime Minister, with even more incompetant or nefarious intent. We must prepare for that day.

Some might say, “if you have nothing to fear, you won’t mind being watched by the State”. If true, my fellow New Zealanders, we might as well put cameras into every home and workplace in the country. After all, if we have nothing to fear…

I would turn it around and say, “if the State has no cause to believe we are about to rob a bank or sell heroin to schoolkids, then it won’t mind keeping out of our private lives”.

Previous governments (including this current one) have gradually extended the power and surveillance capabilities of the State.

It is time to wind back that Orwellian clock and re-set the values which we used to hold for personal privacy, and allow State intrusion only for real (not imagined) criminal activities.

We don’t need to be monitored. We don’t need files kept on us all.

We are not a nation of 4.4 million criminals.

You don’t need to fear us.

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No more anarchy

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That was Then, this is Now #6

30 August 2011 4 comments

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National Party policy quote: http://tinyurl.com/6zm3mo2

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That was Then, this is Now #5

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