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Envious unionists say NBR Rich Listers are tax dodgers; Greens grizzle

Not unexpectedly, union bosses have met release of the National Business Review Rich List  2012 with claims its listees don’t pay enough tax.

And the Green Party claims the Rich List highlights growing income inequality.

In a public statement Council of Trade Unions economist Bill Rosenberg accuses the country’s wealthiest individuals of ducking on paying tax.

"According to information released to us last month by IRD, 50% of the wealthiest kiwis dodge their tax responsibilities."

Mr Rosenberg says the NBR Rich List represents about 0.01% of households who own 5% to 10% of all household wealth.

“This is roughly equivalent to what the bottom 50% of the population own. Yet the bottom 50% are more likely to be paying tax on every dollar they earn while some of our richest individuals are ducking on paying tax," Mr Rosenberg says.

"In annual samples of 184 'high-wealth individuals' between 2009 and 2011, IRD found that only 49.5% of them reported personal incomes of more than $70,000 (the top tax bracket).

“This indicates that some of our wealthiest individuals are skirting on their tax contribution."

Mr Rosenberg says if governments internationally could do more to track down dodged taxes, many countries might not be facing the same degree of financial austerity and spending cuts.

He suggests a capital gains tax and financial transaction taxes as two ways to broaden the tax bas to catch more income from high net worth individuals.

“We should also be restoring higher tax rates on higher incomes – such as a 38 % rate on income more than about twice the average wage ($100,000) and a 45 % rate on income more than approximately three times the average wage ($150,000).

“We could also stop trusts being used for tax avoidance purposes."

The Labour-backing CTU has more than 350,000 members from 40 affiliated fee-paying unions.

The rich get richer, why not everyone else? – Greens ask

The minimum hourly wage would be $16 if it rose at the same rate as the wealth of the 151 names on the NBR Rich List, says the Green Party.

Party co-leader Metiria Turei says the list highlights the growing income inequality in New Zealand.

“While Kiwi families on low wages struggle to get by, the wealthiest New Zealanders are doing very well.”

“Treasury forecasts average wage growth of only 3% to 4% for the foreseeable future, yet the Rich Listers’ wealth is growing at a phenomenal rate of 18%,” Ms Turei says.

“The government should immediately lift the magnum wage to $16 to bring it into line with the wage growth of those on the Rich List or, better yet, adopt Green Party policy and set the minimum wage at 66% of the average wage.”

More by Georgina Bond

Comments and questions

Newsflash for my old colleage Bill: 100% of poor people dodge their taxpaying liabilities.

Ugh, saw my typo just as I hit the Post button. Please give us an edit facility.

Would love it if NBR were to seek clarification from the unions or Labour or this Rosenburg guy on their funding and financial structures - just to demonstrate to NZ Inc how much of a obfuscating pack of hypocrites these whingers actually are.

Hoisting them by their own petard would be sweet, sweet justice and one that NZ Inc fully deserves as partial reperation.

Please, please NBR ask Labour and the unions these questions? I'm sure with Shearer's mantra of transparency and his efforts to increase Labour's credibility - i'm sure they would be more than happy to oblige NZ Inc with the full, easy to understand details of these financial arrangements... ESPECIALLY when they claim it's everyone else but them - well, time to front up Labour and clear your reputation...

Please NBR - NZ Inc needs this...

These people generally work very hard to create wealth. I know there are those born to it - cant comment as Im not one of them. I wish to become wealthy enough to retire with needing to check my bank balance prior to spending. I do not like paying for people to breed, get high and laze around. Govts seem vote bound to pay my hard earned money to people who do not deserve a penny. It no great wonder why people with common sense try to pay as little tax as possible when they know a significant chunk of it is wasted.

Pity the unions don’t pay there tax honestly isn’t it... mind you I guess you actually have to file the paperwork first don’t you – people in glasshouses really shouldn’t throw stones.
as to Greens, well there name states it all - they are just GREEN as in green with envy because they are too stupid to earn money and green behind the ears if they think the world owes them a living.
We should all aspire to being rich not worrying about those that are; this is a typical Labour/Union/Greens/ Maori party reaction.

First point is that paying tax is not a responsibility which implies a moral obligation. It is merely a statutory liability backed by force. A moral responsibility is to pay voluntary invoices. We have not yet evolved beyond feudal use of force. We do not live in a voluntary society. We could.

Secondly, all assets are still in 'circulation' no matter whose name is on the title. Those assets are leased loaned etc to people who place a value on the usage. It is not as though wealthy control means that much unless it is the biassed ownership of some media.

Yeah but one has to voluntarily pay taxes... unless you're McCarten and Unite union and just don't...

Or unless you structure your membership fees behind highly-questionable "related party" dealings that are deliberately murky so they can hide all manner of things from the tax man and the Auditor General - things like all the ACC funded "training initiatives" the unions received. What did they deliver though? Results?

...and when are the unions going to hand-over the hundreds of thousands of dollars donated to the families of the Pike River mining disaster - it's been almost 2 years. Why the delay? Will the unions also hand-over the interest paid on these donations?

I agree I read the article...there is no trust registered at all. Two years and yet the EMPU website calls the donations go into a trust.

I hope the NBR does a follow up story

Why would you dislike at a comment that is says it is a trust and no trust been set up. Hmmm

You have to love the comment "The rich get richer, why not everyone else? – Greens ask".

Simple economics - the risk vs return relationship. Higher the potential risk the higher the expected potential return. Take no risks then dont expect a return higher than the mere average.

The entrepreneurial take risks and are therefore entitled to the rich rewards that might come their way. As one who has put everything and I mean everything on the line in my business, I expect to enjoy the fruits of my risk taking with a superior return at some point. My choice, was to simply work my a*se off to make it happen staring at zero and putting every dollar I could into what i believed in. No smokes, no gambling, no big nights on the p*ss - just investing the pittance I could scrounge up and save and make it work for me to achieve the goal.

And for all the Green bleaters that come up with every excuse under the sun as to why you cant do it - go read Owen Glenn's book about an uneducated guy from Otara who worked 5 jobs to keep his family afloat and then sold his company for almost 500mil. How many bleaters work 5 jobs to make their life better? Or perhaps you might like to read about Sir Peter Leach and his working class struggle to make it.

Are these guys rich pr*cks??? No they are go getters that need to be celebrated.

In a nutshell "harden the f**k up, the world doesnt owe you a living, nor does it care if you dont get off your a*se and make a life for yourself its your choice.

Sir, Congratulations on your letter.

NZ has developed a massive," We ARE OWED " attitude. Working for families, interest free loans, parental leave, superannuation, universal types of welfare, Accident compensation.

Effectively all election bribes that have removed resilience, hardiness and independence from our everyday lives.

I hope John Key reads your letter. He was voted in to turn back the nonscence but im afraid the politics have made him a non event.

Bravo, such spirited words!

I'm impressed. Your name, kind sir?

Initials are JK and no I am not John Key or John Kirwan

Want to do an interesting exercise..load union members into the companies office and see how many come up as directors and shareholders..I have

Isnt attitude a wonderful thing.

Before student loans the local shearing contractor employed lots of students prior to them attending university. This included my sister. who developed strong work habits. She worked weeks on end and paid her own way through uni..

Since interest free loans became available that same contractor has not had one student ask for a job.

I think it is time union leaders are exposed. They have ots of assets. Harre would of been pulling $200k on her work with ATA. Parsloe has a number of directorships.

I wonder what would've happened if a few of these supposedly hypocritical union leaders had been on the boards of the finance companies.

“The government should immediately lift the magnum wage to $16 to bring it into line with the wage growth of those on the Rich List or, better yet, adopt Green Party policy and set the minimum wage at 66% of the average wage.”

More Green party illiteracy of how business works. How many on the rich list are paid a "wage"?

I am quite amazed at how many people have come on this article and put "dislikes' to readers comments. I think all the comments are valid and balanced. To put a "dislike" can mean a few things. One doesn't like the sensible requests by readers or want to divert a good conversation. I think the overall story is about what Unions and Greens think of wealthy people. The article and its commentators are just saying that like all people who disagree need to be squeaky clean, I wonder what the left would think of this Rich List having kiwisaver accounts. I bet they do and took advantage of the $1,000.00 start up. Kiwisaver was started by the left and their best policy to date since Rogernomics

Why poor is poor? Make a decision from this statement yourself. Once I interviewed more than 40 people in Work and Income Office in New Zealand and offered jobs to everybody who came for the interview. Guess what? Only 3 people came to do the job and 2 disappeared after 2 days. Only 1 person completed the season. More than 50% people I interviewed submitted medical certificates to Work and Income so there benefit can carry on. Also they were not on any medication before the job interview. Then I decided to interview more people in different office of Work and Income. Work and Income told me that 15 people are coming for interview. Guess What? Nobody came to attend the interview. Who will pay me for my wasted time? Government or Poor People? Simple answer is nobody.