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Some people just want the world to be taxed more

In brief
  • A group of 97 rich folk are volunteering to be taxed more. But they want to force everyone to join them.
  • The recent High Net Worth IRD study looks a lot like a leftwing political campaign, supported by media that won’t question even the most obvious errors.
  • David Seymour: If they want to donate money to IRD, nothing is stopping them from doing so. 

Some people just want more government in their lives

A group of 97 wealthy New Zealanders is advocating for increased taxation on people like them to address the wealth gap in the country. They are responding to an IRD report showing the very wealthy pay only about 9% of their “income” in tax in NZ. However, the measure of income in the report has nothing to do with actual income or capital gains and is instead an IRD guess at their increasing wealth. There is no indication how many of the 97 would have qualified for that survey. 

In an open letter to Kiwis and politicians, the group, inspired by Millionaires for Humanity, voiced frustration with the current tax system and showed willingness to pay more. They believe increasing taxes should only apply to the wealthy and can be implemented through income tax, a wealth tax, or a capital gains tax. 

They argue a larger tax contribution from those who can afford it is necessary to respond to the climate crisis, improve infrastructure, and lift families out of poverty. The group appears to believe giving more money to government is a good idea. An alternative view is  the government does a poor job of obtaining value for the money spent.

The group wants higher taxes and the media has chosen to spread their partisan view on that. They are entitled to their opinion, but it is not clear how many of them even know the first thing about the complexities of tax or the deficiencies of the report they are referencing. For instance, in addition to the concocted form of income the report uses, it also admits to ignoring a number of taxes paid by the rich, as per the link above. Regardless of the view of the 97, it would be refreshing to see them apply some critical thinking and not just lap up the government’s narrative.

To some this pro tax letter looks more like a pre-arranged political stunt to raise support for the left.

Some people just want the world to be taxed more - Centrist
Minister of Revenue David Parker Image by The US Embassy

So who is stopping them? 

ACT party leader David Seymour was quick to respond, saying these people can simply pay more to IRD. He said there is no need for them to force their values on everyone else. Seymour believes it will not help make New Zealand a more successful and prosperous country.

Many pay no tax  at all

Due to the many types of Government redistribution, a large portion of Kiwis actually pay less in tax than they receive in benefits and credits, leaving the brunt of the tax burden on an even smaller portion of society. A 2016 Government study showed the number of people paying net negative tax was around 40%. In 2019 it was shown that the top 3% of earners paid around 24% of all tax. These numbers are still directionally correct according to the high wealth report and companion reports done by Treasury.

Both left and right can implore for a “fair tax”, but what does fair even mean?

“What is your ‘fair share’ of what someone else has worked for?” – Thomas Sowell

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