A nation of bludgers, tax credits and subsidies

The opposition like to hate on the rich, wanting to tax them even harder. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough of them to do that and, furthermore, 40% of this country don’t even pay any taxes once you include all their subsidies.

More than one in four households are contributing nothing to New Zealand’s tax take.

A table from Finance Minister Bill English’s office shows 663,000 households – or 40 per cent – receive more in tax credits and other benefits than they pay in tax. Thousands more are neutral contributors, or are close to it.


[T]he top 3 per cent of individual income earners, earning more than $150,000 a year, pay 24 per cent of all tax received.

Mark Keating, a senior lecturer in tax at the University of Auckland Business School, said the idea of “net tax” – the amount paid after credits and benefits were deducted – was hard for some people to get their heads around.  

But he said people who received any benefit, or superannuation, as well as people who worked and met the criteria for Working for Families tax credits could end up with a net result that was negative or neutral.

“If you are working and earn $1000 a week but have four children, you might pay $200 a week in tax but get back $300.

“They are net receiving. It’s quite a strange system. It’s not common overseas because it’s quite bureaucratic.”

Peter Vial, New Zealand tax leader at Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, said some people would be surprised to find they were not paying more than they received.

“It’s not a calculation they would do automatically. In an ideal world it would be good if there was more knowledge about the interaction between the tax and benefit systems.”

Many were unaware how dependent New Zealand was on a small group of high-earning, salaried individuals to pay a large chunk of the tax, he said.

“We never talk about that. It’s always a risk to our tax base because people are mobile and can move. But New Zealanders want a progressive tax system, the more you earn the more you pay.”

The tax system is lopsided and unfair. When the top 5% pay nearly a quarter of all taxes collected that is outrageous.

We need to do several things in my belief: remove all the tax credits entirely and lower everyone’s taxes as a result, and introduce a tax-free threshold (we effectively have one anyway).

One other way that would focus people’s minds is to make voting available to net tax payers…net tax takers can miss out.

There is still something terribly sad going on when 40% of people don’t pay any taxes. People bang on about corporates not pulling their weight. Well, 40% of this country’s individuals don’t pull their weight either.


– Fairfax

Do you want:

  • Ad-free access?
  • Access to our very popular daily crossword?
  • Access to daily sudoku?
  • Access to Incite Politics magazine articles?
  • Access to podcasts?
  • Access to political polls?

Our subscribers’ financial support is the reason why we have been able to offer our latest service; Audio blogs. 

Click Here  to support us and watch the number of services grow.

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.