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

CTU economist: 50% of the wealthiest Kiwis dodge their tax responsibilities.

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.”

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