Grant Robertson says Kiwis will effectively get to vote on any tax reform in next election

Finance Minister Grant Robertson says New Zealanders will effectively be given a chance to vote on tax reform in the next election, but he reiterated that the Government had not committed to anything.

Mr Robertson said he had already had "constructive" discussions with Labour’s coalition partners after the Tax Working Group recommended a comprehensive capital gains tax in a report released yesterday.

"We’re sitting down with our coalition partners in NZ First and the Greens and working through what we can come to a consensus on, we then announce that in April, consult on that with the public," he told TVNZ1's Breakfast today.

"If there is any legislation it would be introduced towards the end of this year, passed before the election but this is the important point, it doesn’t come into force until after the election (April 1 2021) so that people get the chance to effectively vote on the package."

"We haven’t got any conclusions yet, we haven’t decided what we’re going to do."

On potential issues getting a capital gains tax approved by NZ First, Mr Robertson said he was approaching the Winston Peters-led party based on principles.

"It’s more about saying what are the principles here, so we’ve said we want the tax system to be as fair and as balanced as it can be," he said.

"We’re now all in a Government together, all of us come into this with views we’ve expressed in the past about these issues, but everyone is engaging constructively."

"All the parties in our Government understand that the economy we’ve got today isn’t delivering to all New Zealanders, that’s what we were elected on the basis of, you’ve got to look at the tax system as part of that."

Mr Robertson would say that no policy concessions would be made to New Zealand First.

"I don't think that's the way we'll negotiate this, we'll negotiate this within its own settings, ie tax, but again it's about packages."

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Q+A’s Corin Dann examines the report of the Tax Working Group with its head, former Finance Minister Sir Michael Cullen. Source: Q+A

The working group’s recommendations were based on creating more fairness and balance in the tax system, Mr Robertson said.

"So, they’ve basically come to us and said you should create a system that’s fair across the board, that levels the playing field," he said.

"What the group has said is well if you’re going to earn that kind of income from selling your third rental property then why aren’t you paying tax on that."

He also maintained a belief that Kiwis believed in fairness in the tax system and when people knew what tax revenue would be spent on, that would lead to a more positive response.

"The problem is, and I think there was a 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll that I think asked this question really well, which is not just 'do you support a capital gains tax? But do you support a capital gains tax if that money was recycled into income tax cuts?' Or you could ask the same question if it was recycled into health or education."

"If you just ask people about a tax in isolation I think you’re going to get a particular answer."

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The finance minister told TVNZ1’s Breakfast he would be working with the group on a balanced tax system Source: Breakfast