Colin Espiner picks up on the "tax cuts" we are supposed to be enjoying


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Colin Espiner "blogs" about the change in talk Labour has used over Working for Families, tax credits, tax cuts, welfare.

[quote]Campaigning on its record is a legitimate enough tactic, but it’s going to take more than this to convince voters to give it another chance. Labour knows this, which is why it has been slowly changing its position on tax cuts from “absolutely not” to “yes, definitely”.

This was nicely demonstrated in the House today, when Clark answered a question by National’s deputy leader Bill English about why she said three years ago that tax cuts were unaffordable and would inevitably lead to cuts in public services: “I’m pleased to say the economy is now much stronger and we have many more options.”

This follows increasingly heavy hints in recent days by Treasurer Michael Cullen, whose constant promise of jam tomorrow has become a familiar refrain.
The other noticeable change from Labour is that it’s started referring to practically any form of tax relief, rebate, or credit as a “tax cut”.

Hence, Clark and Cullen have claimed of late that the Government has delivered “billions of dollars worth of tax cuts” to hard-working Kiwis over the past nine years.
This is no doubt news to many, given the Government’s tax take has virtually doubled since 1999 and many people are paying more tax now than they were when Labour came to office.

But Labour now includes Working for Families as a de facto tax cut, despite the fact that in many cases those receiving substantial sums actually pay no tax at all or even receive more than they pay to start with.
This is getting ridiculous.

One might as well refer to those on the unemployment benefit as receiving a tax cut. Or anyone visiting the doctor, receiving a pension, a free education, or any other form of government assistance. None of these are tax cuts. All involve the state taking income from those that earn it and redistributing it as it sees fit.
That’s fine – all governments do it. But Labour should call a spade a spade. Trying to dress up Working for Families as tax cuts in drag is not going to hoodwink the public, particularly those without children or on high incomes who get nothing from WFF.

It also makes it plain that National has won the argument on tax cuts, which Labour used to argue were unaffordable when the economy was in stronger shape than it is now, and that the public weren’t interested anyway when surveys plainly indicated the opposite.

It’s about time Labour stopped its tax cuts striptease, outlined its policy, and then challenged National to do the same. Perhaps then we could agree on this and move on to some of the other challenges the country faces? [/quote]

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