Social media spanks Bill English on gains tax
by Pattrick Smellie
July 8 (BusinessDesk) – Finance Minister and Facebook page-owner Bill English didn’t get the presumably intended answer when he asked visitors to the page whether they supported the Labour Party’s proposal for a capital gains tax.
When BusinessDesk last looked, at 4.15 p.m., 314 people had voted 88% in favour of a capital gains tax.
Only 40, or 13%, of those had voted against it.This may indicate unexpected support among economic rationalist National Party supporters for the proposal to slap a 15% tax on all appreciating capital assets other than the family home.
More likely, the poll is going viral in Labour and Green Party social media networks.English posed the question on his http://www.billenglish.co.nz/ site: Do you support a capital gains tax?
The issue has arisen because it is a central plank of the Opposition Labour Party’s election manifesto, leaked to the media though not officially to be announced until next Thursday, by Labour leader Phil Goff.
The Green Party has consistently advocated a capital gains tax, but such a change by Labour represents a monumental political shift. A prevailing nostrum in New Zealand politics says proposing a capital gains tax is political suicide.
That was before the housing bubble.Supporters of the tax have also made their thoughts known on English’s Facebook page. One of them, Leonard Bloksberg, said New Zealand “desperately need a tax change to drive investment toward the productive sector and out of real estate.”
“If you don't like Goff's plan, please write your own version but our economy desperately needs a tax on property speculation,” Bloksberg says.The National government has poured scorn on Goff’s tax plan, with Transport Minister Steven Joyce calling it economic vandalism.
English told Parliament the idea would be a complex tax that “struggles to raise revenue at all”, especially as the market for residential property investment was demonstrably dead as a result of the last three years’ national deleveraging.