Launch of campaign to remove GST from food and tax financial speculation

The Alliance Party and Socialist Worker are jointly launching a nationwide tax campaign on Saturday 22 May.

The campaign will champion tax changes that will benefit grassroots New Zealanders.

The campaign will be built around a petition sponsored by both the Alliance Party and Socialist Worker, which requests parliament to:

1. Remove GST from food; and
2. Tax financial speculation.

“These two demands will address imbalances in the tax system, which sees grassroots people having to pay tax on one of life’s necessities, food, while financial speculation goes untaxed,” says campaign coordinator Vaughan Gunson.

“This imbalance will be made worse when the National government delivers the 2010 budget, where GST will almost certainly be increased to 15%,” says Gunson.

“Our campaign will be launched at street petition stalls around the country just two days after the budget announcement, we can expect a lot of support,” says Gunson. “The majority of New Zealanders believe taxing food is wrong.”

“Taxing financial speculation through the introduction of a small percentage Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) would easily fund the removal of GST on food,” says Gunson. “At the same time an FTT would help discourage financial speculation, which destabilises the economy and causes untold harm to ordinary people, as the global financial crisis has proven.”

For more information and comment contact,

Vaughan Gunson
Campaign coordinator
(09)433 8897
021-0415 082
svpl@xtra.co.nz

or

Victor Billot
Media spokesperson
021-482 219
victor@victorbillot.com

Maori Party needs to demonstrate principle over GST hike

Alliance Economic Development spokesperson Quentin Findlay has congratulated the Maori Party MP, Rahui Katene for stating that the Maori Party could consider walking away from their coalition agreement with the National-led Government if GST was increased to 15%.

Mr Findlay said that it was a principled comment that recognised the reality of the situation – an increase in GST would be unfair and could not be offset by any compensation to lower waged workers.

He says that beneficiaries, students and superannuitants could only expect a small increase that would not cover GST fuelled price increases on basic living essentials such as food, power and phone.

“This National Government has already shown its hostility to workers with its pitiful 25 cent increase to the minimum wage and its statements to public sector workers that they should not expect wage or salary increases.”

“GST is an indirect and regressive tax and it’s good to see that the Maori Party recognises that an increase in GST would hurt lower to middle income earners.”

Mr Findlay noted that the tax issue was one of the defining moments for the National-led Government and the Maori Party needed to stand by its principles in relation to it.

“It is quite obvious that National is listening less to the Maori Party and more to ACT. As a result this Government has now decided to impose economic and tax reforms that benefit the rich while penalising the poorer sections of the community.”

Mr Findlay noted that it was, however, one thing for the Maori Party to recognise the danger in raising GST and another thing to take action.

“When and if push comes to shove, the Maori Party needs to stand by its principles and act and if that means leaving the coalition then it should do so.”

The Alliance Party supports phasing out GST and introducing a progressive tax system.

We need a Robin Hood tax – not a "robbin' the people" tax

The Alliance Party is supporting a new campaign to introduce a tax on banks and finance institutions that is creating waves in the UK.

The new campaign is called the “Robin Hood Tax” and proposes a financial transactions tax that is about “turning a crisis for bankers into an opportunity for the world.”

Alliance Party spokesperson Victor Billot says the Alliance is advocating a Financial Transactions Tax for New Zealand that is basically the same as the Robin Hood tax.

A Financial Transactions Tax would be charged on all withdrawals or purchases at a rate of 0.02 % or 2 cents per $100. This would have no impact on ordinary people but only on large financial transactions.

The Financial Transactions Tax or “Robin Hood tax” could contribute towards the phasing out of GST, a regressive tax that hits ordinary people hard.

Mr Billot says the Robin Hood tax is the way ahead, not John Key’s proposed increase in GST which is about “robbin’ the people.”

He says that it’s not surprising given John Key’s background in the corporate finance sector in the UK, which played a major role in the global economic crisis, that he prefers taxes to be paid by the majority while letting a small minority dodge their responsibilities.

Mr Billot says it is repulsive that John Key’s plan to cut the top rate of income tax could see the Prime Minister get potentially hundreds of dollars extra a week, directly subsidized by rises in GST which would hit families hard on basics like bread and fresh vegetables in supermarkets.

John Key plays the role of "Sheriff of Nottingham"

The proposed rise in GST makes the Prime Minister John Key “Robin Hood in reverse” says the Alliance Party, which probably means he is playing the role of the Sheriff of Nottingham – robbing from the poor to help the rich.

Alliance Party spokesperson Victor Billot says an increase on GST to 15% to offset tax cuts for the wealthy is taking money from the pockets of struggling families on the breadline.

The rise in GST will subsidize unaffordable income tax cuts to people such as John Key, and indeed all MPs, whose incomes are far above the average.

Mr Billot says the idea that GST increases are somehow going to encourage savings amongst working people is bamboozling.

“He obviously doesn’t understand the difference between a family struggling to ‘consume’ food, rent and power bills, and a family who are ‘consuming’ unnecessary top end luxuries.”

Mr Billot says amongst the “anti tax” rhetoric there seems to be a lack of appreciation that without taxation, New Zealand and indeed civilization itself, would collapse.

“The great gains in public health, education, welfare, infrastructure and services of the past century have all been funded through taxation, and are now at threat by irresponsible Government’s beholden to powerful private interests.”

The lack of any serious moves on a capital gains tax was also a major failure.

Mr Billot says that major business figures have recently called for capital gains tax and even currency movement taxes, so these policies were quite mainstream.

“However, as National seems to represent the unproductive speculation sector that is whom their policies are helping.”

“What has happened to the affordability of housing under National and Labour in the last few years is a national disgrace, the full effects of which are only beginning to be seen.”

The Alliance proposes a major change in New Zealand’s tax system, phasing out GST and reducing income tax on lower income earners through a stepped progressive tax system.

Progressive income tax would mean higher taxes paid by those who can afford it (such as John Key), a capital gains tax on investment property (not family homes) and also a financial transactions tax on movement of money that would only affect larger transactions.

Tax Working Group flawed in its anti-social focus

A tax system for New Zealand’s future“, the report from the Government’s Tax Working Group, is predictable and flawed in its negative, anti-social focus.

Alliance Party co-leader Kay Murray says that a lot of effort seems to be going into promoting ways of making life more comfortable for well off people who don’t want to contribute their share of taxes to keep New Zealand running.

She says it appears the Tax Working Group, comprised of high income males, is recommending a tax system that benefits high income males.

“There seems to be little recognition of the positive role taxation plays in creating a progressive society where all people can reach their potential and the worst excesses of poverty and insecurity have been ended.”

Ms Murray says the idea that reducing taxes on the already wealthy will make New Zealand a better place to live is a discredited and anti-social idea.

“With all the noise about New Zealand catching up with Australia, then perhaps we should follow the Australian example, where the marginal income tax rate on earnings over $180,000 is 45 cents in the dollar.”

“Tax is required for a civilized society, ensuring public health care and education, and ensuring unemployment, sickness and old age are not the personal catastrophes they were in the bad old days the National Party wants to return to.”

Ms Murray says low income and middle income earners certainly stand to lose from such measures as increasing GST and lowering the top tax bracket.

She says the Tax Working Group should not be setting out to cave in to individuals whose goal in life was getting a free ride at everyone else’s expense, but to close loopholes and ensure that the tax base could support a secure and fair society.

Ms Murray says that the Alliance supports a progressive tax system that would reduce the tax burden on low to middle income earners, phase out GST and introduce a capital gains tax on investment property and a financial transactions tax focussed on large movements of money.

In addition, the Alliance had a fully costed budget for its policies including tax tables, unlike many other parties.

Time to give flat tax concept a decent burial

Alliance Party co leader Kay Murray says it is time for National and ACT to get over their fixation with flat tax and return to reality.

“Flat tax is an outdated idea of the 1980′s. All flat tax does is give the already wealthy a license to print money while destroying the living standards of low to middle income earners, the majority of the population. The flat tax theory is about as credible as the flat earth theory.”

Ms Murray says the introduction of flat tax would spell the demise of the welfare state.

“Something all New Zealanders should resist, especially since we have been credited with being the first country in the world enlightened enough to introduce a welfare state that includes public health, education and social security for all citizens.” Continue reading

Tax cuts help John Key's mates but leave ordinary New Zealanders out in the cold

kay_murray

The Alliance says National’s tax cuts are a complete fiasco that punish the poor and starve the nation of vital social spending.

Alliance Party co-leader Kay Murray says anyone earning under $24,000 misses out completely.

“People on this income level desperately need a break to deal with spiralling basic costs such as food, housing and transport.”

She says the tax cuts are an attack on low income earners, and make no real difference to middle income earners, as they starve spending on health, education and other important social services. Continue reading