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ACT Slams Tax Apartheid

Tuesday 21 May 2002

ACT leader Richard Prebble says his party strongly opposes the government's proposal that Maori authorities and trusts pay only 19.5 percent tax, rather than the 33 percent rate that applies to all other businesses and trusts.

"The government has tried to slip this measure through Parliament by including it in the annual tax bill - the Taxation (Annual Rates, Maori Organisations, Taxpayer Compliance and Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill - which is now before the Finance and Expenditure Committee," Mr Prebble said.

"This bill will give lower taxes to some of New Zealand's largest businesses, for example, the Waitangi Fisheries Commission and all its subsidiary companies. The commission controls half the country's fishing quota and is worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

"Another major business that will benefit is the Crown Forestry Rental Trust, which has assets of more than $200 million.

"The government's argument that the 19.5 percent rate should apply because many Maori don't earn enough to pay 33 percent tax, doesn't stack up. People who set up charities for children still have to pay the 33 percent rate.

"The Pacific Island community is poorer than Maori, and the Department of Statistics reports that there are more non-Maori poor than Maori poor, yet they won't benefit from the lower tax rate.

"The savings industry has pointed out for years that low-income people in superannuation schemes are discriminated against because the schemes must pay 33 percent tax. The government has done nothing about that.

"This measure amounts to race-based tax laws, which is Kiwi apartheid," Mr Prebble said.


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