Labour has no plans to raise taxes - Andrew Little

Labour's not planning on going into this year's election with a policy to raise taxes, says leader Andrew Little.

In 2014 under David Cunliffe, Labour said it would raise the top personal income tax rate to 36 cents.

Speaking to The Nation on Saturday morning, Mr Little said Labour's spending promises can be paid for out of existing tax revenue.

"The Government has achieved more tax revenue than they expected," he told host Lisa Owen.

"Just earlier this week, I think, the Government said they are now expecting a surplus this year of $1 billion ahead of the Treasury projections, so the tax revenue is there. The commitments we've made and the phasing of those commitments in putting them in place means that we can fund those out of existing tax revenue."

But just hours later, he's been trumped.

"The fact of the matter is it's not about whether we put up taxes or not now, it's actually about when we can reduce taxes," Finance Minister Steven Joyce says.

The Government is "inching closer" to tax cuts, with another strong hint they will form part of a family package in the May Budget.

"With the economy growing it's now time to look at whether we can reduce some of the burden on hard-working families, people saving for a house that want to put a deposit together.

The Government announced this week its books are better than expected, and that could translate into tax cuts over the next few years.

In 2014, Labour was also promising to introduce a capital gains tax on housing and raise the age of superannuation to 67 - policies the party dropped when Mr Little took over.

Labour's exact tax policies would depend on what happens between now and the election campaign.

"We will finely calibrate what we do once we see what the Government does in its foreshadowed tax changes, which we assume will be in this year's Budget, but who knows?"

After the interview, a Labour spokesperson contacted Newshub to clarify Labour would definitely not increase taxes.

National has promised to increase the age of superannuation in 20 years' time.

One tax loophole Labour is promising to close is negative gearing - borrowing to buy a house and renting it for less than what it costs, using the losses to avoid paying tax. They still make money in the long-term thanks to capital gains - which are also largely untaxed.

In Australia billions in tax revenue is lost every year to negative gearing, which economists say mostly benefits the wealthy.

"We're going to have a look at the negative gearing rules," says Mr Little. "In principle we're saying, 'Why should investors who own these investment properties have a tax advantage?' And so we're going to look at that, and that's part of, you know, dealing with the speculators of the market."