Taxpayers’ Union welcomes ACT’s decision to question Commissioner on IRD funding

Source: Taxpayers Union

FEBRUARY 20 2019FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
More parliamentarians should join David Seymour in calling for answers on IRD’s decision to fund pro-tax articles on The Spinoff, says the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union.Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director Jordan Williams says “IRD made a serious error of judgment in choosing to fund pro-tax articles on the Spinoff. The articles, published alongside the Spinoff’s ‘Tax Heroes’ campaign, are clearly intended to soften the public up towards a high-tax, high-spending society where IRD clips the ticket. Nearly a year after we uncovered this spending, IRD still refuse to accept they made a mistake.”“One of the articles explicitly sponsored by IRD clearly advocates for a capital gains tax. Introducing new complexities to our tax system might be good news for IRD staffers looking for promotion opportunities, but it’s simply not the job of IRD to spend taxpayers’ money to advocate for political positions.”“While it’s good that ACT’s David Seymour has called for an investigation, other parliamentarians should add their voices. The credibility of our public institutions dep

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Thames-Coromandel District Council congratulated for stance on climate change declaration

Source: Taxpayers Union

FEBRUARY 20 2019FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Responding to Thames-Coromandel Mayor Sandra Goudie’s comments on the Local Government Leaders’ Climate Change Declaration, Taxpayers’ Union Spokesman Garrick Wright-McNaughton says:
“It is a breath of fresh air to see a Mayor take the common sense approach to put ratepayers first. Instead of signing away the Council’s future autonomy, the Mayor has suggested that it would be irresponsible to sign the Declaration without any certainty of what future ratepayers will be bound to.”
“Councils primarily exist to deliver good quality infrastructure – roading, water, and on occasion, refuse collection. Climate change may be the flavour of the day but it should not be used as a political tool to dig deeper into ratepayers’ pockets.”

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Revealed: 1,243 more secret grants from Palmerston North City Council

Source: Taxpayers Union

FEBRUARY 19 2019FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union can reveal that in addition to the $391,000 amount paid to Toyota NZ in a previously secret deal, 1,243 other grant payments have been made since 2015.Taxpayers’ Union researcher Patrick Corish says, “After we revealed the secret Toyota deal, we asked to see a list of all other grants and subsidies to businesses or developments in the last three years. A letter from the Council’s CFO states there are 1,244 such payments, but the Council refuses to provide a list of these payments free of charge.”“It’s the middle finger to transparency and accountability to ratepayers, whose money the Council is giving away.”“In addition to the number of grants, we also now know there were more than 27,000 emails between the Council and Toyota relating to the revealed grant and others.”“What makes this particularly galling is the Mayor’s recent comments that ‘lessons have been learned’ and that Council will be more transparent with a public register.”“This volume of communication suggests a much closer relationship between Council officials and Toyota than previously thought. We’d like to know how many other grants and discretionary payments have been paid to Toyota, but other than try to bill us for the information they’ve given us zip.” Notes:Original LGOIMA request – 23 January 2019Letter from Palmerston North City Council CFO revealing – 12 February 2019
27,785 emails between Council and Toyota
1,244 grants
Seeking to charge $3648 to provide information

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Children’s voices denied in Select Committee debacle

Source: Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG)

Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) believes that National’s attempt to thwart Finance and Expenditure Select Committee submission hearings on the Budget Policy Statement last week has serious implications for the democratic process.

“On this particular occasion, representation for children, people affected by disability, and those facing disadvantage was denied,” says Associate Professor Susan St John, CPAG’s Economics Spokesperson.

“There are all too few opportunities to give a voice to those who may be unable to directly convey concerns about serious matters that affect their lives.”

Dr St John says that while CPAG was presenting on many of the same issues that have been brought to the Select Committee in the past, this year was important because there are new opportunities for being listened to now that the Government is committed to a well-being budget and the priority of reducing child poverty.  

“CPAG would like the government to honour its commitment to the well-being of the worst-off children with policies that go well beyond recent lifts to family incomes through changes to Working for Families (WFF) and Accommodation Supplement increases.

CPAG says investing in children’s wellbeing requires more substantive and enduring changes than have been implemented to date. These changes must be timely, and families should not have to wait a long time as they did with the overdue Families Package.

“Lifting the income of those on core benefits by around 30%, including the adding of the child tax credits together so that the worst off get an extra $72.50 a week should be an immediate response to unacceptable levels of family poverty,” says St John.

The harmful 5% cumulative inflation rule still applies to WFF. This disadvantages low-income families in times of low inflation and has no justification except as a cost-saving measure.  Treasury’s forecasts for inflation indicate that there won’t be another adjustment until April 2022.

“As well, the recent increase to abatement rates for WFF have reduced the chances that a low-income family in paid work, who earns a bit more, has to get ahead,” says St John.

“A family may find earning over the new threshold of $42700 for WFF may not be worthwhile after tax and abatements, especially if they are also getting the Accommodation Supplement. They could lose 67.50% of those extra earnings. If they are repaying a student loan this could be nearly 80%. Once their income is over $48,000 they may lose 92% of extra income because of the higher tax rate. For example, an extra $5000 might mean they are only $400 better off at the end of the year after working harder to get ahead.”

“It is simply false economics,” Says St John.

CPAG is says the decision to continue contributions to the NZ Super fund when poverty for children is so far from being solved is also highly questionable.

“Many of working age are paying the taxes both for NZ Super today and for their own NZ Super later – if they are lucky to live that long. It is more prudent for an ageing population to invest in the wellbeing of the young today.”

To read CPAG’s full submission to the Finance and Expenditure Committee on the Budget Policy Statement 2019, download it here.

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PEPANZ gas report nothing but fake news and flatulence

Source: Greenpeace New Zealand

An oil industry-commissioned report claiming to show the Government’s oil and gas exploration ban will cost billions is nothing but “fake news and flatulence”, according to Greenpeace.

The NZIER report commissioned by oil industry body, PEPANZ, claims the oil and gas ban issued by the Government last April could cost the the New Zealand economy $28 billion by 2050. It also claims it could cost the Taranaki economy $30 billion.

But Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner, Amanda Larsson, says the figures in the report are based on false assumptions and alternative facts.

“This report is simply a rehash of old modelling that failed to take into account the cost of climate change or the value that new clean energy industries will have as we transition away from fossil fuels,” she says.

“It assumes we have a choice about whether or not we respond to climate change. We don’t. We have just ten years to cut our emissions in half if we want to avoid passing the 1.5 degree warming threshold for human safety.”

Larsson says the effects of climate change will cost us dearly and inaction is not an option. Most recently, the Insurance Council of New Zealand confirmed that 2017 and 2018 were the two most expensive years in New Zealand for claims related to extreme weather.

“Ending fossil fuel use is non-negotiable. What matters now is how the Government and industry support workers and communities through the transition to clean energy so they are not negatively impacted,” she says.

“The oil and gas industry has had 40 years’ warning that fossil fuels are driving climate change – the industry now has a responsibility to invest in retraining and transition support for its workers and communities.

“In Taranaki, there are enormous opportunities in the clean energy industry. The skills employed in offshore oil and gas transfer well to the offshore wind industry, for example. In the US, we’ve seen wind and solar technicians become the two fastest growing professions.”

PEPANZ hopes to use the report as leverage for a review of the oil and gas ban. Larsson says she hopes common sense will prevail.

“PEPANZ is an oil hype group that exists solely to pedal propaganda for an industry that for decades has been knowingly causing climate change and denying it. The alternative facts pushed in this report are nothing but fake news and flatulence,” she says.

“The figures are based on fantastical modelling that imagines masses of gas lying offshore that despite intensive searching, the industry has failed to uncover. Oil and gas companies have drilled 75 wells in a decade and not found one bit of commercial gas – not even a fart’s worth.”

ENDS

Contact:

Amanda Larsson, Greenpeace NZ climate and energy campaigner, 021 722 794

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Nineteen CGT details to look out for

Source: Taxpayers Union

The Taxpayers’ Union has listed the top 19 details Kiwis will be looking out for on Thursday in the Tax Working Group’s capital gains tax proposal. In our recent report, Five Rules for a Fair Capital Gains Tax, we outlined criteria to assess whether a capital gains tax is ‘fair’. Capital gains taxes can range from moderate to extreme, or simple to convoluted, depending on the detail of the proposal.On Thursday we will look to see how the proposals stacks up against these criteria, and check off many other details that we encourage commentators and concerned New Zealanders to look out for.Details to look out for include:
Rollover relief:
will the capital gains tax apply on death or just on sale of an asset;
will the tax apply if capital is simply being recycled within the same asset class (selling a smaller farm to purchase a larger farm, for example)?

The rate:
will there will be a discounted or lower rate, like in Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, or the United States?

Revenue neutrality:
will the revenue be offset with tax cuts;
if so, who will receive them;
will revenue neutrality be maintained in the medium-to-long term as CGT revenue grows?

Family home exemption:
will there be exemption exclusions for large properties (will lifestyle blocks be subject to the tax?);
will there be a ‘maximum value’ for the family home;
how much tax will be payable if there is an exemption exclusion?

‘Valuation Day’:
will asset owners be required to value their property and businesses;
if so, will it be at their expense, or will the general taxpayer be required to pay;
if the general taxpayer is required to pay, what will be the estimated cost of ‘V-Day’;
how much time will taxpayers have to obtain asset valuations;
if valuations are not obtained, will other ‘default valuations’ be used?

Exemptions:
are there any sectoral exemptions (e.g. racing, fisheries);
will Maori authorities pay capital gains tax, if so, at what rate;
how are vehicles, boats, antiques etc. treated?

Trusts:
at what rate are trusts taxed;
will they be taxed on accrued or realised gains?

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19 capital gains tax details to look out for on Thursday

Source: Taxpayers Union

FEBRUARY 19 2019FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Taxpayers’ Union has listed the top 19 details Kiwis will be looking out for on Thursday in the Tax Working Group’s capital gains tax proposal. Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says “In our recent report, Five Rules for a Fair Capital Gains Tax, we outlined criteria to assess whether a capital gains tax is ‘fair’.  Capital gains taxes can range from moderate to extreme, or simple to convoluted, depending on the detail of the proposal.”“On Thursday we will look to see how the proposals stacks up against these criteria, and check off many other details that we encourage commentators and concerned New Zealanders to look out for.”Details to look out for include:
Rollover relief:
will the capital gains tax apply on death or just on sale of an asset;
will the tax apply if capital is simply being recycled within the same asset class (selling a smaller farm to purchase a larger farm, for example)?

The rate:
will there will be a discounted or lower rate, like in Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, or the United States?

Revenue neutrality:
will the revenue be offset with tax cuts;
if so, who will receive them;
will revenue neutrality be maintained in the medium-to-long term as CGT revenue grows?

Family home exemption:
will there be exemption exclusions for large properties (will lifestyle blocks be subject to the tax?);
will there be a ‘maximum value’ for the family home;
how much tax will be payable if there is an exemption exclusion?

‘Valuation Day’:
will asset owners be required to value their property and businesses;
if so, will it be at their expense, or will the general taxpayer be required to pay;
if the general taxpayer is required to pay, what will be the estimated cost of ‘V-Day’;
how much time will taxpayers have to obtain asset valuations;
if valuations are not obtained, will other ‘default valuations’ be used?

Exemptions:
are there any sectoral exemptions (e.g. racing, fisheries);
will Maori authorities pay capital gains tax, if so, at what rate;
how are vehicles, boats, antiques etc. treated?

Trusts:
at what rate are trusts taxed;
will they be taxed on accrued or realised gains?

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Tax on internet giants must be revenue neutral

Source: Taxpayers Union

Tax on internet giants must be revenue neutral
FEBRUARY 18 2019FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Responding to the Government’s stated intention to introduce a new tax on foreign internet companies, New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says: “Taxing foreign corporates will be popular with the public, but it’s also hugely convenient for the politicians, who will receive an extra $50 million or so in new revenue. The question is whether this revenue will be squirreled away for election bribes, or whether average taxpayers will see corresponding relief in the form of tax cuts.” “If the Government insists on breaking its ‘no new taxes’ promise, it should at least follow the spirit of the promise by committing to revenue neutrality.”

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Trapping predators is not “Provincial Growth”

Source: Taxpayers Union

Trapping predators is not “Provincial Growth”
FEBRUARY 18 2019FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Responding to the announcement of $19.5 million in Provincial Growth Funding for predator control, New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says: “Regardless of its merits, conservation spending is not a ‘Provincial Growth’ initiative. Shane Jones seems to have completely run out of ideas for how to spend our money. He ought to pull the plug on the fund now, returning the leftovers to taxpayers.”

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Education, income-generation for Rohingya refugees must be top priorities, say Oxfam, Save the Children & World Vision

Source: Oxfam New Zealand

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Education and income-generating opportunities must be made top priorities for the nearly 1 million Rohingya still languishing in the world’s largest refugee camp almost 18 months after fleeing violence and persecution in Myanmar, said three leading NGOs at the launch of a new UN funding plan for the crisis launched in Geneva today.

In a statement issued today, Oxfam, Save the Children and World Vision called on international governments to generously fund the 2019 Joint Response Plan (JRP) for the Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis. While the agencies applaud the ambitious new JRP—an appeal for US$ 920.5 million to assist 1.25 million people, including 909,000 Rohingya refugees and 336,000 host community members—they urge donors to emphasize education and income-generating activities when allotting funding.

The three agencies are also calling on donors and the Government of Bangladesh to ensure that humanitarian action in Bangladesh supports refugees and host communities to live in greater safety and dignity while meeting basic needs for food, clean water, and shelter. This means investing in education to equip children and youth with the skills they will need to create a more prosperous future in Myanmar when they can safely return there. It also means enabling refugees to become self-reliant today so they can provide for their families in dignity.

Rachel Wolff, World Vision’s Rohingya Refugee Crisis Response Director, said: “Education is not a luxury. It is a human right. Refugee children and parents tell us that education is a top priority for them. However, there is an overwhelming gap in access for children and adolescents.”

An estimated 700,000 children and youth age 3 to 24, including 200,000 from the host community, lack access to educational services. The situation for refugee adolescents and youth is particularly dire: only four in 100 have access to any form of education or life-skills and vocational training.

Thirteen-year-old refugee, Sirjil, worries that he’ll never go back to school. He says, “I was in fifth grade in Myanmar, but here I have nothing to do. Sometimes I go to the forest to collect firewood. Sometimes I go to the river. There is no opportunity for education. Tutors cost 300 taka a month (about $3.50). How can you pay that if you have no money?”

David Skinner, Team Leader (Designate) of Save the Children’s Rohingya Response said: “The Rohingya children currently in Bangladesh have had their rights abused by being forced to flee their homes in horrific circumstances. They have experienced things that no one—let alone a child—should experience. They should not suffer a double penalty by also being denied their right to education. The least the world can do is to ensure that they are not any more disadvantaged.”

In addition to insufficient access to education, the lack of income-generating opportunities renders Rohingya refugees dependent on aid, making them highly vulnerable to exploitation, especially children.

Dipankar Datta, Oxfam Bangladesh Country Director said: “Rohingya girls, especially when they hit puberty, face major obstacles in getting an education. The lack of options for Rohingya women to find work in the refugee camps makes it very hard for single mothers to support their children. Donors and the Government of Bangladesh should increase opportunities for women and girls to earn and learn, in order to help protect them from abuse and exploitation and be able to provide a better future for their families.”

Oxfam, Save the Children and World Vision are calling on the international community to support the Government of Bangladesh in making education for children and youth a central priority and to encourage initiatives that promote self-reliance and recovery for their parents.

-ends-

NOTE TO EDITORS

Oxfam is providing vital aid, including clean water and food, to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. So far, we’ve reached at least 266,000 people. Oxfam’s report, One year on: time to put women and girls at the heart of the response, found that more than a third of women surveyed by Oxfam and partner agencies said they did not feel safe or comfortable going to collect water or using toilets and shower cubicles. Oxfam is calling for 15 percent of new funds to be allocated specifically for gender sensitivities programming, including providing income-generating activities for women.

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