Prime Minister hints at cutting tax for low to middle income earners

Shaun Singh is what you call a middle-income earner - he's got a good office job, earns around the average wage, rents in Auckland and has a baby on the way. 

Mr Singh says it's hard to make ends meet. 

"It's really expensive, and rent and the bills are quite expensive. By the time I pay all this I've got nothing left for anything in the future. It's really hard to survive on one person's income," he says.

The average wage is just under $59,000; the tax rate in the $48,000-$70,000 bracket is 30 percent. But Prime Minister Bill English has a message for low- to middle-income earners: "I want to help."

Mr English is hinting a tax cut may be on the way for low- to middle-income earners in a family package in the Budget - something Mr Singh says would be "definitely helpful". 

"As the Prime Minister, we want to make sure all New Zealanders benefit from a growing economy," Mr English says. 

There is money to play with, with big amounts of surplus cash forecast. The Government has $3.3 billion to spend next year, rising to $6.8 billion by 2020. 

But the Opposition thinks other issues are being overlooked. 

"There's a huge priority on housing, health and education. They're crying out for attention because of the past neglect of this Government. That's where the attention's got to go; that's where the priority is," Opposition leader Andrew Little says. 

The Government also distributes $2.4 billion a year though Working for Families, and $1.2 billion via the Accommodation Supplement. Mr English could be targeting this for redistribution as part of the family package in this year's Budget.

But Mr English's plans keep getting haunted by his potential coalition partner, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters.

"It's really a dog whistle. He hasn't got the money to do that with the deficit and all sorts of structural investments we should've made - hospitals, schools, roading, housing, you name it," Mr Peters says.

All eyes now are on the Budget, released on May 25. 

Mr English says it's all about choices and he will make the choice to make this Budget a real vote-grabber.