Capital gains tax set to be biggest political scrap of the year

Jacinda Ardern is already feeling the pressure over whether to introduce a capital gains tax in what is shaping up to be one of the biggest political fights of 2019 and the election year. 

The Government's tax working group is expected to recommend the tax when it reports back this week. But not only would the Prime Minister have to sell it to the public, she's got a hard job convincing Winston Peters first. 

In her first post-Cabinet meeting of the year, Ms Ardern confirmed there will be no Cabinet reshuffle or demotions until after Budget 2019 is released. 

"I have decided to consider a reshuffle after the delivery of this key milestone," she said on Tuesday. 

But before all that, the Prime Minister has a whopping great political fight on her hands: whether to introduce a capital gains tax - a tax on profits when you sell assets like property, land or shares.

Given that Labour got cold feet over its capital gains tax at the last election, the question remains over whether the party will be up for the fight going into the next one. 

And it will likely dominate the election in 2020. 

Ms Ardern scrapped Labour's capital gains policy a week before the 2017 election in the face of immense criticism and attack ads from National. 

The prospect of a capital gains tax was poison at the 2014 election too, derailing then-Labour leader David Cunliffe's campaign.

The tax working group reports back to the Government this week and already this much is clear: "The family home is off limits." 

Asked if that would include the family home in a trust, Finance Minister Grant Robertson said on Tuesday that it would. 

It's still going to be a tough sell with voters. But first up, Ms Ardern has got to get it past the goalie, her deputy Winston Peters. 

In the past, the New Zealand First (NZ First) leader has said capital gains tax doesn't work in this country or "any country". 

Asked if Labour and NZ First are on the same page in terms of a broad base capital gains tax, Ms Ardern said it all depends on what the tax working group report comes back with. 

The Government will probably take two or three weeks to mull over the tax working group's recommendations - the capital gains tax likely one of many.