Only half 100 richest people in NZ paying top tax rate

Only about half of a sample of 100 of the wealthiest people in New Zealand pay the top marginal tax rate on their income, according to The Tax Working Group.

Yesterday's report by the group referred to an Inland Revenue sample of 100 of the wealthiest individuals in New Zealand. The data showed that only about half are paying the highest marginal tax rate on their income.

"These taxpayers are not necessarily doing anything wrong but are merely taking advantage of the opportunities offered by the current system to shelter income from higher rates," the group's report said.

"This calls into question the integrity and fairness of the system," the report said.

Finance Minister Bill English said following the report's release that the tax system needed to be broad-based and fair, and that meant wealthier people paying more.

"Some of the information they provided around who pays what is quite startling -- for instance a survey of 100 of New Zealand's wealthiest people shows that only half of them pay the top tax rate. It's astounding to a layman I'd have to say."

The top personal marginal tax rate in New Zealand is currently 38 percent.

The report says the rate is not especially high by OECD standards but it starts at a lower level than most other countries' top rate.

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