Simon Bridges: “No ifs, no buts, no caveats, I will repeal this CGT”

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A recent bold statement from current National Party leader, Simon Bridges, declared his intentions should a capital gains tax (CGT) be enacted;

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…No ifs, no buts, no caveats, I will repeal this CGT as Prime Minister of New Zealand ” – a statement so categorical that it made John Key’s 2008 commitment never to raise GST, look timid;

“National is not going to be raising GST.

National wants to cut taxes not raise taxes.”

Except, he did.  In October 2010, Key’s National government increased GST from 12.5% to 15%.

Nine years later, Simon Bridges has made a similar, solemn, hand-on-heart, promise: “No ifs, no buts, no caveats, I will repeal this CGT as Prime Minister of New Zealand“.

Except, he can’t.

On at least several levels, his commitment to repeal a capital gains tax will fail.

Labour’s  Grant Robertson, made it crystal clear that any proposed CGT will not be implemented until after the 2020 general election;

“We know it is important to get this right, so we will balance the need for certainty and urgency by ensuring that any potential changes will not come into effect until the 2021 tax year. This gives multiple opportunities for public input, and a general election before any new tax would come into effect.”

The process would be straight-forward: whatever the Coalition government decides would be put into legislation that would not ‘activate’ until after the next election. It would take a repeal of that legislation to stop CGT from ‘kicking in’.

The difficulty with this is two-fold.

Firstly, Simon Bridges and the National Party would have to achieve a simple little thing: win the next election.

The chances of that happening – with current polling – is marginal, to say the least.

For starters, National has been trailing Labour in the last two political polls.

Secondly, National has no ‘mates’. ACT is consistently in the zero-to-1% band and the faux-Bluegreen Party is nowhere to be seen.

That leaves two parties: the Greens and NZ First.

The Green Party membership would rather machine gun the last remaining Hector’s Dolphins than entertain a “teal” coalition with the Nats. Bridges’ promise to reinstate offshore exploratory drilling for oil and gas would make any potential National-Green coalition toxic and as likely as a flying saucer landing on the White House lawn.

Which leaves NZ First. It is unclear as to what benefit – if any – a coalition deal with the Nats would offer to NZ First. As well as having been the “kiss of death” to other small parties, National has tried to destroy Winston Peters in the past. Peters is unlikely to have forgotten the leaking of his superannuation over-payment and the strong probability that it was engineered by a senior National government minister who shall remain nameless.

Moreover, if this current Coalition Government passes legislation for a capital gains tax to take effect in 2021, that would mean all three parties – Labour, Greens, and NZ First – voting to pass said necessary legislation.

For a National-NZ First Coalition to repeal that legislation would mean NZ First voting against a law that they themselves helped enact.

The fallout with the public would be massive, echoing NZ First’s disastrous decision to form a coalition with National back in 1996. Public support for NZ First would rapidly evaporate.

There would be simply no possible political gain for NZ First to travel down that road.

So unless Simon Bridges can find a new political party to ally with; or, unless National can win 50% outright of the Party Vote in 2020 – both unlikely scenarios – his promise to “repeal this CGT as Prime Minister of New Zealand” cannot be taken seriously.

Indeed, the comments following Bridges’ ‘tweet’ on 6 March reflected the disbelief of such an unlikely event happening.

And more than one social media commentor asked some pertinent questions;

“Does that include the Brightline Test your government introduced?”

And;

“Will you get rid of tax on wages and if not, why not?”

Considering that National introduced a limited capital gains tax – the  two year ‘brightline’ test – in 2015, Bridges would have to make some hard decisions and explanations to the public.

Would the ‘Brightline’ test remain in place if he had an opportunity the scrap the Coalition’s more comprehensive CGT?

Would he return the ‘Brightline’ test to two years or keep it  at five?

How would he justify retaining a ‘Brightline’ test – whether at two or five years – when scrapping a more comprehensive, and justifiably fairer, capital gains tax? Why is one form of CGT acceptable to National, but not the other?

And as more than one person demanded to know, why is National promising to get rid of one tax (Capital gains) which would benefit property speculators – but not income tax, which would benefit every wage and salary earner in the country  (and put a permanent smile on David Seymour’s face that would never be erased)?

Bridges would be facing these questions and more in 2020 if he decided to make capital gains taxation an election issue next year.

All of which is unsurprising: at around 5% in the polls, Bridges faced the ignominy of approaching the margin of error – depressing symbolism to be viewed as an ‘error’ – and over-taken by one of his National MPs, Judith Collins. This has made him that most desperate of beasts; a politician at risk of becoming irrelevant.

No party can hope to win the governing benches with a Leader who is seen as uninspiring and lacking support from even National Party voters.

If Bridges cannot succeed in campaigning to defeat capital gains, his tenure as National’s leader will come to an abrupt end. To be followed in rapid succession by his political career.

A further point has probably not escaped the attention of the National Party: if the Coalition government wins the next election and remains intact, that would signify not just the implementation of the capital gains tax – but it’s bedding-in for three years. That would make it much harder to repeal.

Especially if all the fear-mongering, gloomy predictions failed to materialise and the world (or at least the bit at the bottom where New Zealand sat) failed to end in Mayan Calendar 2012-style. Like GST, National would have to ‘bite the bullet’ and accept the new tax. They simply could not find any justification to repeal it without perpetuating their ‘other’ reputation as being a party of, and for, “rich pricks”.

If Labour, the Greens, and NZ First hold their nerve and don’t blink in the face of right-wing hysteria and bluster, the political gain from implementing CGT could be greater than they anticipate.

In fact, everything to gain, and National to lose.

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Postscript

Response to National MP, Scott Simpson, engaging in fear-mongering over CGT:

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References

Twitter: Simon Bridges – no ifs no buts no caveats – 6 March 2019

Otago Daily Times: Key ruled out GST increase in 2008

NZ Herald: GST rise – The hole in your pocket

Interest.co.nz: Labour releases document setting out tax plan, says no Working Group taxes would come into effect until after 2020 election

Mediaworks/Newshub: National plunges to worst result in over a decade – Newshub poll

NZ Herald: National will reverse Govt’s offshore oil exploration ban if in power in 2020 – Bridges

Radio NZ: Peters’ legal action against National party continuing – lawyer

Beehive: Bright-line test targets gains on property sales

Interest.co.nz: The Bill that will see the bright line test extended from two-years to five has passed its third reading and now awaits the Royal Assent to become law

Mediaworks/Newshub: NZ prefers Judith Collins to Simon Bridges as Prime Minister – Newshub poll

Twitter: Frank Macskasy – Scott Simpson – capital gains tax

Other Blogs

The Standard: Why New Zealand needs a capital gains tax

Previous related blogposts

A Capital Gains Tax?  (14 July 2011)

ACT intending a “serious assault”?  (17 July 2011)

National spins BS to undermine Labour’s Capital Gains Tax (31 May 2014)

A Claytons Capital Gains Tax? (13 September 2014)

Simon Bridges – out of touch with Kiwi Battlers (2 March 2019)

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26 COMMENTS

  1. This is also about property investors both foreign and domestic buying for cash for years but chinese purchases are massively down in Australia and New Zealand overall. One of the reasons the market is collapsing and also because of mortgage origination falling off a cliff. Australia’s a different story to buying online.

    Of course Developers see them coming a mile away and slot them at prices 100% above the resale value by guaranteeing them 6% yields for 3 years, then they just give them 6% of their own money back for 3 yrs keeping rent themselves, then they’re left holding a lemon for 15 yrs. As happens all over the world, they artificially print the top end per square foot valuation which drags up the average and encourages more and more borrowing from the middle class to chase the market. So foreign property speculators may be a small percent but the impact is large.

  2. No problem Simon, you can compensate losses by the 1% by increasing our ACC employee levy deducted from our wages in addition to PAYE that is now not even separated out on your wage slip because National wanted it to be invisible.
    NB: Just because something is invisible doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
    Oh and you can also increase RWT, and make our children pay their fair share of tax whilst the 1% hide their wealth in Cayman Islands bank accounts.
    Nothing like getting your priorities right, eh Simon?

  3. When John Key was asked why he had increased GST after saying that he wouldn’t, his response was that he could. How smug and arrogant is that?

    • Every once in a while, the “Jovial John the beersies and BBQs guy!” mask would slip, and you’d see Key for the person he really is. And then you’d desperately want him to put the mask back on because the underlying horror was simply too grim to stomach for any length of time.

    • Low income earners spend most or all of their money each week to live so after being taxed on their income once, then all of that income attracts tax a second time when they spend to live. Low income earners rarely have a tax adviser or access to systems of reducing ( avoiding ) their taxation.

      john F’key increased the tax on the poor by raising GST from 12.5% to 15%, and increase of 20% of their GST so slashing their after income tax spending power used to meet daily needs by 2.5%. This draconian stealing from the poor is indicative of NACT’s agenda.

      Meanwhile the uber rich spend little of their income on daily needs so the GST increase has little direct effect on their budget BUT as NACT had lowered the taxation rate on corporate and high earners, who both used tax avoidance schemes anyway, then stealing from the poor to feed the rich is a simple description of swine key’s mandate. The GST increase funded the corporate tax reduction.
      It was a move by stealth as the two tax changes were not announced together.

  4. I’m confused, why are you surprised National will repeal the CGT if they win 2020?, they never campaigned on it and never said they were happy with it when Labour set up a working group (although it was an open secret that the group would recommend one). So why all the faux outrage when opposition say they will repeal it, politics 101, be honest it draws a line come election time… For or against CGT! Arden is now in a position to implement it and run for 2020 on the strength of it (albeit a very watered down version) are the left afraid it will be the downfall, AGAIN, of Labour?

    • I’m confused, why are you surprised National will repeal the CGT if they win 2020?,

      I’m sorry you’re confused Im Right. Perhaps if you read my article in it’s entirety, it may settle any lingering confusion you might have.

    • Did National campaign on putting tax on paper boys and girls?

      No, yet they did. I think when all the hysteria, the paranoia of the right dies down, people will see a CGT for what it’s worth, tax on investments, like any other tax on investment.

  5. I don’t think Simon Bridges will be around long enough to ever make Prime Minister of New Zealand.

    Every time he speaks I cringe. He is too much of an embarrassment. No-one wants a representative of the people who makes promises he has absolutely no intention on keeping. We NZers had enough of that behaviour from John Key.

    Lets be assured of one thing that whilst Bridges claims to do away with the CGT then what existing taxes would him and his cronies increase to make up the difference???!!!!!

    Also the National MPs abhorrence of the CGT seriously gives me the impression they are hiding something. Have they paid little or no taxes over the years on their various property investments and hence their attitude now to the CG???!!!!!

    Out of all this we all know we cannot trust a National MP because they are only interested in Number One i.e themselves.

  6. If Labour put in CGT then National will win the election and have the mandate to repeal it.
    Labour voters pushing for CGT is like turkeys hoping for an early thanksgiving.
    Madness!

    • If Labour put in CGT then National will win the election and have the mandate to repeal it.i>

      How?

      I don’t think you’ve read my blogpost, Jays. How can National “win the election and have the mandate to repeal it” when (a) they can’t cross the 50% threshold to win an outright majority and (b) they have no likely coalition partners.

      If you have a third alternative, feel free to share it with us. I’d be intrigued to learn how they could manage such a feat.

      • Winston First and the greens will fail to cross the threshold as punishment for their stupidity and it will turn into a traditional FPP election.
        Besides, you start introducing a broad based CGT and I’m not sure it is possible to rule out National getting 50%.
        Learn for history for God’s sake.
        Two things are poison chalices in NZ politics. Super and CGT even more so.
        The fact that you are allowing your ideological fervour cloud your judgement is however unsurprising.
        It seems most Labour supporters prefer a National government to a Labour government without CGT.
        Once again, madness!

        • So you base your assertion on both the Greens and NZ First not getting 5% in 2020, plus National over-taking Labour?

          The polls do not support your contention that this will happen. Even NZ First, currently hovering just under the threshold, is usually able to regain support during an election campaign.

          Hoping for a ” traditional FPP election” seems forlorn.

          • Honestly it’s like debating with a 5 year old, such is the simplicity of your thought processes.
            All I have predicted is predicated on the government campaigning on a CGT so OF COURSE the current polls don’t reflect my prediction.
            Honestly, can you please try to think before responding. Conversations are not terribly interesting when the person you are conversing with is us8ng so little of their brain.

            • Your lack of understanding shows who the real 5 year old is Jays. Frank’s reasoning is sound. Unless National can win 50% of the party vote (unlikely) or find a coalition partner (who?) , they are stuck in opposition. Its pretty fucking straight forward, what part of that eludes you??

            • Under pressure are we Jay? People in that position usually resort to abuse and attack on the other persons character

            • As a self-respecting five year old: if you spoke to me in that sneering and seriously unpleasant way I’d say, “We don’t use insults when we want to be taken seriously.”

              Then, perhaps, you’d apologise, as any decent five year old would.

            • You may want to do a spell check there Jays, seems you may only be using(with an I) so very little of your brain.

              As an aside, when you resort to insults, then you’ve lost the argument.

        • Good Luck Jays with your predictions National are really going to have to lift their game from now until the 2020 Election IMHO.

  7. There is still a year and a half till election Frank and Labour haven’t introduced the CGT yet. Once Labour and NZ1st vote for it (greens will do as they are told and vote for it) watch NZ1st vote tank, worse than now, and the soft Labour votes swing to National.

    • If “soft Labour votes” don’t switch to National, thats the end of Simon Bridges career. No wonder the guynis hysterical over CGT and barking at every passing car, he’s desperate to stay relevant!!!

      A CGT is the best way to keep National in opposition, as far as I can see. It shows them up as siding with speculators and other rich pricks.

  8. In 1988 when the then-American Presidential candidate G H W Bush was on his campaign trail he said these words: “Read my lips: no new taxes”. The words later came back to haunt Bush as it turned out to be a broken promise. Existing taxes were increased whilst he was president.

    It does look like that 31 years on Simon Bridges is parroting the same words as G H W Bush. But then it’s common practice for National Party politicians to parrot the words of their beloved America eg Reagen’s “Trickle down effect”.

    Bridges may claim no new taxes if we by some misfortune end up with a National government but we can be well assured that existing taxes will experience an increase eg GST going up to say 17%.

    It still bothers me alot that National are so against a CGT. Their OCD(as I have said earlier)is concerning. I am sure they have spent more money on the CGT matter and their misleading information than they would spend on more important matters.

    So how much tax evasion/avoidance have National MPs gotten away with over the past so many years? It’s time they(National)MPs opened their books and be totally honest and upfront with NZers instead of spreading their perpetual lies and bullocks.

    Bridges also needs to confirm there will be NO INCREASE in existing taxes if there is a National government ever again. But we the voters will probably be treated with arrogance and contempt by whomever is the National Party Leader with the excuse of “Because I can(increase existing taxes)” like John Key said despite his pre-election ‘promise’ in 2008.

    • You mean like Labour did by increasing taxes and calling them by a different name?
      To be clear here, ALL politicians are lying weasels.
      Support whatever side you want, but be honest about it.
      This current rabble in Government have proven to be no less corrupt than the last lot of rabble and in fact possibly even more so which is an incredible feat in itself.

  9. The most important thing for Bridges to do is give the impression to intelligent people that he can actually spell CGT. It doesn’t matter about his rabid supporters, they can’t spell it anyway so they don’t care, but the stupidity, the sheer vacuousness of his comments on most things are handicaps to overcome if he wants to make any positive impression on those who need to be moved.

  10. But the one tax that affects everyone, sooner than later – still rumbles on.

    Who’s got the decency to lower GST – back to 10%, if we must have such a gouging tax?

    And how about no GST on rates?

    Or are we all too numb to the groping fingers in our teeny moneybags that we simply sigh and suck it up?

Comments are closed.