[New Zealand] Capital gains tax ruled out

Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has announced that the Government will not adopt the Tax Working Group's (TWG's) recommendation for a broad capital gains tax, Tax-News.com reports.

In February the TWG recommended that more income from capital gains should be taxed from the sale of residential rental properties with a  majority of members supporting the inclusion of all land and buildings, business assets, intangible property and shares.

Ms Ardern said, "The Tax Working Group gave the Government, and the country, an opportunity to look at the fairness of our tax system and debate options for change. All parties in the Government entered into this debate with different perspectives and, after significant discussion, we have ultimately been unable to find a consensus. As a result, we will not be introducing a capital gains tax."

"I genuinely believe there are inequities in our tax system that a capital gains tax in some form could have helped to resolve. That's an argument Labour has made as a party since 2011. However, after almost a decade campaigning on it, and after forming a government that represented the majority of New Zealanders, we have been unable to build a mandate for a capital gains tax. While I have believed in a CGT, it's clear many New Zealanders do not. That is why I am also ruling out a capital gains tax under my leadership in the future."

Although there will not be a capital gains tax, the Government will look at options for taxing vacant land. The Productivity Commission will be told to include vacant land taxes in its inquiry into local government funding and financing and to make looking at the current rules of taxing land speculators a priority for the work programme (TPWP).

Without the broader capital gains tax, other recommendations from the TWG for support to those on lower incomes could not be endorsed. The Government said it will not introduce a wealth tax or a land tax, as the TWG recommended.

It also agreed with the TWG that New Zealand should keep the imputation system and the current corporate tax rate. It agreed that New Zealand should not introduce an alternative basis of taxation for small businesses or a progressive company tax.

The Government noted the TWG’s recommendations about digital tax reform and noted that proposals for digital taxes will be put to parliament in May. It agreed with the TWG's recommendation that the Government should review the current GST requirements for contractors who are equal to employees.

The Government agreed with the TWG's recommendations for no reduction in the GST, no further exemptions from GST, and that the Government should monitor international developments on applying GST to financial services.

It agreed the need to consider further measures to improve collection and encourage compliance, including:

  • Making directors who have economic ownership in the company personally liable for arrears on GST and PAYE obligations (as long as there is an appropriate warning system)
  • Departure prohibition orders
  • Aligning the standard of proof for PAYE and GST offences

Finally, the Government agreed the need to strengthen the enforcement of rules for closely-held companies. It agreed with a TWG recommendation that Inland Revenue should have the ability to require a shareholder in a closely-held company to provide security to Inland Revenue if:

  • a) The company owes a debt to Inland Revenue; and
  • b) The company is owed a debt by the shareholder; and
  • c) There is doubt as to the ability/and or the intention of the shareholder to repay the debt


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