26 Jun 2018

Parliament’s to do list: finalising tax

From The House, 6:17 pm on 26 June 2018

The usual 12 questions to ministers will take place just after 2pm then MPs will get into 'Government business of the day'; that's just another way of saying they work through proposed legislation.

The priority this week will be finalising two tax bills which need to be passed before the next financial year starts in July (yes, that’s next week).

The plan for this week (June 26 - 28) is below.

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Photo: VNP / Daniela Maoate-Cox

MPs are required to be at Parliament for scheduled sitting days, so called because MPs sit in those green leather chairs when they’re in the debating chamber. An agenda known as the Order Paper is published online each sitting day outlining what business the House plans to get through. But plans change and time is limited so below is what they’ll try their best to get through.

Fuel tax for the regions (Tuesday)

What:

Collecting tax from multinational companies (Tuesday)

What:

Why:

  • Tax law is a bit like an arms race. Governments write laws to try and force companies and individuals to pay their share of tax, while they, in turn, look for loopholes to exploit so as to minimise their tax.

  • This bill focuses on BEPS tax avoidance schemes whereby multinationals move profits from high tax countries (NZ) to low tax countries (tax havens); so they can report a loss in NZ and a massive profit somewhere else where tax rates are negligible.

Limiting overseas buyers (Tuesday)

What:

  • The second reading of the Overseas Investment Amendment Bill.

  • If a bill has made it to its second reading then it’s normally been through a select committee process which means it has been examined by MPs who consider submissions from the public and write a report. The report from the Finance and Expenditure Committee can be found here.

  • This Bill will put residential land into the category of “sensitive land” in the Overseas Investment Act. It will mean people who do not usually live in New Zealand will generally not be allowed to buy residential homes or other land classed as residential.

  • There are some exceptions or conditions which would allow overseas investors to purchase residential land but one amendment was removed by the Speaker last week who ruled it out of order.

Tidy up internal affairs (Tuesday/Thursday)

What:

Why:

  • The Bill responds to the New Zealand Productivity Commission’s July 2014 report Regulatory institutions and practices. The Commission found that finding time in Parliament’s calendar to update legislation can be difficult and regulatory agencies often have to deal with out of date legislation. The Bill is an opportunity for minor and technical amendments to be implemented across the local government legislative regime.

General Debate (every Wednesday)

What:

  • Twelve speeches of up to five minutes in length after question time on Wednesdays in the House. Speeches are divvied up proportionally so bigger parties get more speeches. Because Ministers aren’t counted in the proportional divvy-up, the opposition side of the House gets more speeches than the government side.

Why:

  • The general debate is a chance for MPs to bring up issues that would otherwise not come up before the House, making it a wide-ranging debate. Sometimes parties take a coordinated approach and speak on the same issue but there’s no rule that they have to.

Member’s Day (Wednesday)

Every alternate Wednesday in the House, time is devoted to bills by members who are not ministers (like Opposition MPs and backbenchers). They’re called member’s bills. Member's bills up for debate this week include:

Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki settlement (Thursday)

What:

Why:

  • Settlement bills aim to resolve historical claims by Māori against the crown for breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi before 1992.

  • The Treaty, which was signed in 1840, gave sovereignty to the British Crown, allowed Māori to keep rangatiratanga (chieftainship) over their resources while giving the Crown first dibs on any land up for sale and granted Māori the same rights as British citizens.

  • Settlements include some redress to set things right which can be cultural, commercial, or financial. Once a settlement is reached it becomes law.

Updating Military Justice (Tuesday/Thursday)

What: