Protestors rally to tax the rich more and the working class less

August 24, 2023

Protestors rally to tax the rich more and the working class less

Politicians may have ruled it out but some New Zealanders still want to see a wealth tax implemented. Photo: supplied.

As the cost of living rises, some New Zealanders continue to call for a wealth tax, despite major parties ruling it out.

Protesters took to the streets on Saturday, August 19 for a “Tax the Rich” rally, which started in Britomart Square with multiple speakers advocating for a tax change ahead of the election in October.

Elliot Crossan, a representative of Systems Change Aotearoa, which was the main organiser of the rally, said the rich need to be paying significantly more tax.

“Wealth inequality is massive in this country and we need to urgently do something about that,” said Crossan.

He said a wealth tax would help fund tax cuts for lower income workers alongside funding for housing for all, climate action, and universal public services.

Dr Michael Fletcher, of Victoria University, said a wealth tax could be defined in two ways - through taxing the wealth a person owned or by taxing capital gains.

New Zealand relies on tax income through taxing wages and salaries, as well as from goods and services or value added taxes.

Fletcher said the Government needed a certain amount of income, and reducing poverty cost money.

“So in order to seriously address poverty issues in New Zealand, we need to have more tax revenue coming into the Government.”

“We have a lopsided tax system at the moment, in particular respective of land and housing, which is very lightly taxed . . . and to compensate for that, we place heavy reliance on goods and services, taxes and income taxes.”

Protestors call for more tax on the wealthy and tax relief for the poor. Photo: supplied

Fletcher, however, did say implementing a wealth tax could cause issues, including how you create a wealth or capital-gains tax that could be easily implemented and was not easily avoidable.

It was important to not encourage people to not shift their assets offshore to avoid the tax, he said.

Dr Ranjana Gupta, a senior lecturer in taxation at Auckland University of Technology, said that implementing a wealth tax could increase emigration and decrease investment in New Zealand.

“In New Zealand we need capital. We need foreign investors to come in and invest. If we want that then by taxing those people who are investing, who have the assets, it is discouraging the investors.

“Investors will start moving out of New Zealand, businesses will start moving out of the country. That means there will be less jobs, less opportunities for people to work and to earn, then how will that reduce the cost of living?”

Don Franks, a representative from the Workers Now Party, who was a part of the Tax the Rich rally rejected the risk that a wealth tax would raise emigration.

“People are emigrating out of New Zealand especially to Australia as fast as they can because the wages aren’t high enough.”

Labour, National and ACT  have all ruled out a wealth tax and a capital gains tax, while the Green Party and Te Pāti Māori are proposing the wealth tax.

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