Finance Minister Grant Robertson rejects talk of Māori exemption from capital gains tax

Finance Minister Grant Robertson has hit back at claims that Māori could be exempt from a capital gains tax (CGT). 

The Government's Tax Working Group published a report on February 21 which recommended a comprehensive CGT, excluding the family home. 

It also raised issues about potential exemptions or deferrals on CGT for Māori organisations in the interest of fairness. However, this was not included in the group's formal recommendations - it said it would need to be looked at further. 

Nevertheless, National leader Simon Bridges criticised the Government about it, saying if the proposed CGT will have negative implications for Māori, "then it will have negative implications for all New Zealanders". 

"If a capital gains tax is bad for Māori, then it's bad for every New Zealander. There shouldn't be exemptions for some. That's not the Kiwi way," he said. 

Mr Robertson has since clarified that the Tax Working Group had proposed more work be done on the issue, and that the Government is not necessarily proposing Māori CGT exemptions. 

The Tax Working Group report said the Government should consider that some types of transactions relating to collectively owned Māori assets "merit specific treatment in light of their distinct context" - such as treaty settlements. 

Excerpt from the Tax Working Group's report.
Excerpt from the Tax Working Group's report. Photo credit: Tax Working Group

Mr Bridges didn't touch on the fact that the Tax Working Group also recommended exemptions for non-Māori assets - businesses with a turnover of less than $5 million that used their gains for upgrades related to the company. 

A spokesperson for the Finance Minister said Mr Bridges "appears to have attributed this to all Māori and their assets, which anyone who has read the report would know isn't the case". 

The Tax Working Group recommended that the Government "engages further with Māori to determine the most appropriate treatment of transactions relating to collectively owned Māori assets".

It also suggested a CGT exemption method, or deferral until the next sale, could be applied to iwi when transferring assets to associated hapū or marae, particularly after a Treaty of Waitangi settlement when assets are distributed. 

It said the rollover method could be applied to transactions relating to recovered Māori land. The example it gave was when ancestral land was made available by the Crown or became available on the market when a settlement concluded. 

"Without a rollover rule in this circumstance, a Māori organisation would be subject to tax owing to the arbitrary fact that its preferred ancestral land was not available for the Crown to include in original treaty settlement redress."


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