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NZ Treasury showing ‘ideological right wing’ mindset by calling tax a burden, Greens say

Treasury, the government's lead economic policy advisor, was accused of expressing ideological right wing views in a parliamentary select committee for calling tax a "burden".

LATEST: Whoops - Russel Norman used 'tax burden' in his own press releases

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman questioned Treasury officials presenting the department's long-term fiscal strategy to the finance and expenditure select committee whether the use of the term "tax burden" was a policy neutral way to describe tax, saying it reflected Treasury's ideological position.

"I see your point actually," Treasury senior analyst Becky Prebble said in response. "It is funny the things you sometimes say without really thinking about it."

Committee chair Paul Goldsmith asked if Norman would prefer the term "tax opportunity".

"If you think tax is a burden that is just an ideological right-wing position," Norman said. "I would just call it tax if I was a public servant trying to have a politically neutral approach to a debate on tax. I wouldn't call it a tax burden which is a politically loaded right-wing term."

Treasury officials were presenting their latest statement on the nation's long-term fiscal position, which was published in July. The report, which must be produced every four years, shows that on the current track, revenue will fail to meet expenses by the mid-2020s.

Officials cited tax, superannuation and healthcare as the three main areas where government policy changes offered the biggest possibility for closing the gap. The reports aim to stir public debate around choices rather than put forward recommendations.


Comments and questions

Income Tax is nothing more than Protection Money paid to those who would send you to be tortured in prison if you don't pay.

I just don't understand why the elected Mafia of New Zealand is handing tax authority over to the United States for dual NZ/US citizens and US residents living in New Zealand, would they do this for any other country?

What piffle and the type of stupidity I would expect from libertarians and Ayn Rand minions. The truth is that you would expect treasury to have an ideological bias as does Russell Norman. In between tax as a burden and a necessity lies the truth. What we need is to analyse what and how leads to the best results for society as a whole. Name calling advances nothing.

Russell Norman can call tax anything he likes. To any individual or business, it's a burden. I'm quite sure the greens will have a very different name for Russell Norman than the one I use as well .

Russell Norman ... your salary is most definitely a burden.

If you do not like the facts, get off the government teat!

Give me back my flag, give me back my flag, give me back my flag.......
Russel is a burden to the NZ taxpayer, and this comment from him shows his contempt towards those hard-working kiwis who pay their tax. It only becomes a burden when socialist spend far more of our tax than they have the right to collect. RNIAFC

Indeed Treasury should be even handed. As well as the tax burden they should report on the Green burden. since both are equally damaging.

'Tax Burden' is an economic term with a long history of international use. And regardless, of course it is a burden. All else equal, it is levied on the earnings and consumption of individuals and firms and in the world of economic scarcity, it has every characteristic of a 'burden'.

That's what the Greens will never understand - taxation is real money lost to those who pay it. It's their money. Their earnings. Frankly, calling my tax income his 'opportunity' is offensive. It is disrespectful to taxpayers. If your income is high enough, nearly 50% of it will go in PAYE, ACC and GST. The Greens see it as free money to try turn NZ into an organic vege patch from top to bottom and have us all sit around holding hands and singing cumbaya!

I'll pay tax, but you better spend it wisely. Otherwise, let me keep what's mine and leave me alone, Red Russel!

Exactly. Anything which takes funding out of the productive economy is correctly described as a burden. I am concerned at the economic ignorance implied in the response by Treasury's "Senior" analyst.

It feels like a burden to me. And a bloody big one!!!

More collectivist wisdom from Australian 'former' communist Russel Norman.

This economically illiterate supra-nationalist quisling is the enemy of freedom and the Nation State.

To him Lenin would be a righty!

An economic and fiscal pigmy in a land of giants is the Aussie Commie.

This "Print money" economic guru should have heard the old adage that it's better to be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt.

No wonder Cunny is trying to distance him from a Finance team.

Solidarity - you are entirely correct.

Why doesn’t Norman simply stop commenting on finance and economics subjects he clearly has no understanding or knowledge of ?

bur·den (bûrdn)
1. Something that is carried.
2. A source of great worry or stress; weight
3. A responsibility or duty

I would say tax fits these definitions quite well. What's he on about?

AS long as the media keep printing and broadcasting his drivel, he will keep spouting!.
There is never anything factually accurate about his ramblings, nor newsworthy; so the justification of balanced reporting can't be used, as he never says anything of relevance or importance. Just ideological drivel.

Unless payment of any tax is optional, most would consider it a burden, however from what I am lead to believe it's only compulsory for plebs like me, silly enough to work for a salary......

Of course it's a burden - it's something we don't want to part with, but do so because we all (implicitly at least) agree that we should crowdfund NZ as a lifestyle (think health, education, welfare etc...). We might not all agree how it should be collected and distributed, but we all tend to agree that we should contribute. Doesn't mean it isn't a burden, and trying to weasel another term (opportunity) is more than a little disingenuous.

...but only to the poor who have a vicious real tax rate when you take into account the indirect taxes they have to pay.

The rich however have the money to employ a clever accountant ...

How NZ Labour can ally themselves with this economic vandal is objectively horrific.

UK Labour banned communists from membership because as Nye Bevan said, the Communist Party is ‘the sworn inveterate enemy of the socialist and democratic parties’. (After he made this point forcibly to Khrushchev, the appalled dictator said that he would vote Tory if he were British).

Should the collectivist ever be in a position of hegemony once again then there are only a few 'growth' areas I can imagine:

1) Shovel maufacturing
2) Quick lime production
3) Hole digging
4) (Re) edukashun [sic]

Er. That's it.


Of course tax is a burden. Are the Greens mad?

If tax is not a burden why not stop it.?

If it is an opportunity, give us the right to keep this opportunity for ourselves in our own pockets

If Mr. Norman spent just a little time learning basic economics, he would realise tax burden as the common term to describe tax liabilities. So rather than just moaning about Treasury using the term, perhaps he could head off on a world tour to convert all the accountancy firms, universities and business concerns who have talked 'tax burden' for decades. Make a good job of it Russell - don't hurry back home.

Well Norman was certainly talking about what a burden the raise in GST was on poor people. - If not a burden it is definitely a Cost that most of us have to face.

Is he really trying to say it is a a cost that only the Ideological right should pay - sounds more like that. Probably 90% of all Kiwis fall to the right of his views.

And Norman shows his ideology. In his communist world, the more tax he gets, the more he has to throw around and buy votes. He is a little whiner though isn't he -haven't the IRD guys got better things to do than have to put up with his newspeak.

Comrade Norman you and your ilk are a huge burden, but believe me tax is a burden a huge burden!

Norm, why don't you put your high falutin' ideology where your mouth is, and tithe 60% of your salary to the State welfare system. Then, we'll sit up and take notice.

Mr. Norman and the senior treasury analysis who states she sees his point should google 'tax burden. He will learn much.

Forget the police top 10 most wanted list - this guy is the most dangerous man in NZ by far!

Tax may also have the effect of a penalty. It is used by government to dissuade behaviour such as excessive alcohol consumption. That discloses the underlying effect of tax. The benefits of tax may be payment for services or re-distribution but its penalty effect cannot be avoided.
The Productivity Commission is charged with encouraging increased earnings or income so the country earns more. Tax does the opposite. It would be far better if government funding fell into line with all other buy / sell transactions. It should be invoiced as a cost of living. That would remove the disincentive in both GST and Income Tax. It would remove complexity adversely affecting business decisions. Tax is the stupidist idea ever invented by mankind. It is based on the use of force. It survives only because voters think that is the only option. We all need to revise the whole concept of government and government funding.

An MP who texts when he was supposed to be applying himself to the work of the Select Committee is clearly a burden that taxes both the system and the patience of voters.