12 Aug 2009

Finance Minister hesitant about big tax changes

7:11 pm on 12 August 2009

Finance Minister Bill English is hesitant about making fundamental changes to tax but has confirmed officials are working on proposals to raise GST and introduce a capital gains tax.

Papers obtained by Radio New Zealand under the Official Information Act reveal the Treasury has pushed the proposals consistently in briefings to ministers.

Mr English has confirmed his officials are pushing hard for the Government to lift GST from its present rate of 12.5% while making cuts to income tax rates.

He says there is also a lot of talk about introducing a capital gains tax as a way of encouraging investment in the export industry, rather than having the economic recovery - when it comes - based on consumer spending and another housing boom.

But Mr English says the Government would take some convincing to make those sorts of changes, with a GST rise likely to hit low income earners most.

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) was introduced on 1 October 1986 at a rate of 10%. It was raised to the current level on 30 June 1989.

The papers obtained by Radio New Zealand also outline a range of options the Government is considering to replace a tax credit for research and development, which it scrapped.

These include giving businesses a direct grant or supplying small firms with vouchers so research can be purchased from universities and Crown Research Institutes.