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New Zealanders Want Tax Cuts, Survey Reveals

by Mary Swire,, Hong Kong

08 October 2007

According to the results of a new survey published on Friday, New Zealanders want tax cuts, but not at the cost of social services

The research, undertaken by ShapeNZ on behalf of the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development, showed that nearly eight out of every 10 New Zealanders (76%) want a personal tax cut, but more than half would oppose tax cuts if they meant reductions in spending on health, education or welfare.

The poll also revealed that at the next election, most would be inclined to support the party which best balances these two positions.

The research was conducted in advance of the Business Council’s Business Budget Summit 2007 on November 1, where 80 chief executives and Government ministers will discuss personal tax reform.

“There is an overwhelming public demand for personal tax cuts and a strong view the Government can afford to make them,” observed Business Council Chief Executive Peter Neilson on Friday.

846 respondents were questioned by ShapeNZ nationwide between September 29 and October 1 on their attitudes to a number of taxation issues.

Other key findings included that:

  • 62% of voters say tax policy, and its design, will be the main policy to influence how they cast their party votes at next year’s general election: 13% say a personal tax cut will be the single biggest factor influencing their party vote at the next election, while another 49% say a personal tax cut policy which also balances the need for continued social spending will decide their party vote. 32% say issues other than tax will be the main influence on their party vote.
  • 72% believe tax cuts are affordable.
  • Asked what size of tax cut would be personally acceptable to them, 66% of New Zealanders chose a modest $20 a week or less (21% $5 a week, 27% $ $10 a week, 18% $20 a week). These choices would cost between $500 million and $2 billion a year. 13% want $30 or $40 a week from personal tax cuts.

Commenting on the survey results, National Party Finance Spokesman, Bill English took the opportunity to slam the ruling Labour Party, suggesting that:

"Labour has mismanaged the growth over the past eight years. Instead of trusting New Zealanders to make the right decisions with their own money, Labour has taken the 'we-know-best approach'."

He went on to add that a "credible tax programme" which includes phased personal tax cuts would be a pillar to National's platform for growth in New Zealand.

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